10 Ways To Spot a Scam

Scam - MemeI got an email from Josephine the other day asking if I’d be interested in letting her company put advertising banners on my website. They’d pay me for the privilege up to nearly a $1000 a month! Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is. Anyway it got me thinking about this as a subject for this weeks blog. I want you to be safe and protected so here goes.

When trying to sort the real from the fake remember this mantra:

IF IT SOUNDS TO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS

Also I’d suggest you burn into your brain the following 10 principles:

  1. Nobody offers you sweet deals out of the blue. You’ve got to go looking for them and know the value of things.  In the opening example how would Jose-phoney even know whether there was high or low traffic to my site, she’d need access to my server. (It wouldn’t make marketing sense to place ads on anything but sites with high traffic.)
  2. What-are-Internet-Frauds-and-ScamsSimilar to the previous principle; no company anywhere will ring you up and offer to fix your computer. It just doesn’t happen in this universe. The computer industry in the past even routinely sold defective products and charged its customers for the fix. (Case in point: Microsoft Windows 98 – so defective they re-released it as Windows 98 SE [second edition] and charged everyone a second time!) Nowadays all software updates and fixes are done either automatically or at least without a human element at the other end. So don’t be fooled, Microsoft, Google and such have not, will not and never will benevolently ring you to give you some free service, product or advice.
  3. Where is this email or phone call coming from? In the case of an email it should look like a legitimate address. With the scam above it all looked good so this shouldn’t be your only touchstone. If someone phones you, ask for their name and contact number, and attempt to call them back. Usually they’ll just scurry away rather than give you any contact details; why if they’re legitimate?
  4. If possible try and check out the company online (be careful of clicking links in an email) In the example above, the company turned out to be from Czech. Now I know there are legitimate companies in all countries, but it’s a bit of tall stretch to believe that a company on the other side of the planet is really giving me such an offer. Sceptic? Pessimist? Paranoid?  Maybe, but it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.
  5. I’ve said this before in previous posts, but no financial institution including Paypal is ever going to request personal information, login details or similar from you via an email. It’s such a no-no in this industry they’d be laughed out of town, so don’t fall for anyone trying to scam you that way.
  6. credit-card-scamsOn a similar note, you never need to enter login information in an email. If you’ve forgotten your password, most sites let you instigate a password recovery email that simply links you back to a secure part of their site where you can enter a new one.
  7. If you get email from a name you don’t know and or a company you haven’t heard about, treat it suspiciously.
  8. If you get an email from some casino somewhere or competition you can’t remember ever entering, odds are you never did and it’s a scam.
  9. If you get an email from someone even a lawyer claiming to be acting on behalf of some long-lost-unbeknown-rich-relative, that just died and left you a fortune…seriously? You’re not that gullible, but watch out for subtle variations on this theme that might sound a little more believable.  Recently in Australia, people are getting rung up supposedly by a representative of the ATO (Australian Tax Office) or similar; informing hapless recipients that they owe money and have to pay (you guessed it; via a credit card right there and then). Do I need to point out how much of a scam this is?
  10. There is no where on this planet where you need to pay someone up front to get free money that’s apparently coming your way!  If you really did have gazillions just rotting in a bank account in Nigeria waiting for you to ‘release’ it, wouldn’t the agents that are contacting you set up a face to face, and wouldn’t their fees, bank fees, so called government charges etc… etc, be taken from the total before they gave it to you rather than from you directly? We’ll they would, it’s how it’s done. Any other way is a scam.

So lets wise up and send these criminals away empty handed.

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