The Internet which is commonly referred to as the "Information Highway" is a valuable tool that provides us with many Services and Resources that benefit us by doing more in less time. If you're reading this then you know how the Internet works and the impact that it has on you, either on a personal or professional level.
The intent of the Internet as with most new technologies is to provide legitimate Services and Resources, and as with many new technologies we as Consumers have to be aware of the non-beneficial aspect of the Internet that is known as fraud. As noted in the Consumer TIPS the "Information Hwy" reaches to many parts of the world that includes North America where you have Individuals and Organized Crime that take advantage of your trust, naiveté and greed. These fraudsters are looking to take a big bite out of your wallet and if you are not savvy to their deception, lies and false promises, that is exactly what will happen.
Did you know that there are on-line entities which include Internet Service Providers that track your every Internet move; have you ever wondered why you are offered free software trials on line? Or a one month free trial offer? In many instances information about your activities is gathered and/or the personal information that you supply is collected and sold to 3rd parties, the list of scams that are on the Internet continues to grow, the Internet is not regulated or policed. Much of this collected information only results in spam mail, however what about the criminal types that read your e-mail or solicit you on-line? How about the web sites advertising great products at reduced prices that don't exist? Hmmm...why do they keep stalling me when I query them about my order?
You the Consumer or Business Owner has to be aware that there is always a "RISK" when you give your personal information on-line... that is why you have to be diligent and smart about what you do on the Internet. For example:
- Are you sending out confidential or personal information via e-mail that could subject you to fraud?
- Are you ordering Product from a Company that you know nothing about?
- Do you give your credit card number on-line where the website is not secure?
- Do you respond to e-mails that solicit you for money and/or promise you huge commissions such as the Nigerian letter scams do? (read more about the Nigerian scams in Consumer TIPS)
- Do you as a Business Owner send product overseas on the strength of a credit card number that has been received via the Internet? If you do you are asking to be ripped off unless you know who you're dealing with. Internet fraud via stolen or skimmed credit cards from foreign countries is a no risk scam because no-one is going to follow-up on your complaint. You as a Business Owner have no recourse, so before you send your product overseas and count your profits conduct some due diligence with respect to whom you are sending this product to. In most instances and this applies to North America as well, the product is sent to a postal drop or an empty apartment. Words of advice... wait until the cash is in your account before you ship the product; don't think that because you have received a cheque that the product has been paid for because cheques can be counterfeit or NSF, have your bank verify that the cheque has cleared before sending the product.
There are many different kinds of fraud that can occur on the Internet, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the various scams that are out there. The responsibility to protect your financial well being and your personal information lies solely with you. Yes you may complain bitterly to someone that really doesn't care about your predicament because they have heard it a thousand times before, yes you may have charges reversed on your credit card if they are fraudulent and yes some of your friends or maybe your wife will feel sorry for you because you are a fraud victim, but bottom line you won't get your money back... make sure that it doesn't happen in the first instance, prevent it from happening, know who you are getting involved with on the Internet.
Listed below are some excellent web sites on Internet Fraud that will educate you and answer many questions that you may have, i.e. using escrow accounts when paying for something on-line, conducting due diligence to determine that a web site is not just a store front that the Company actually exists.
Remember this... the responsibility to protect your on-line action solely rests with you and if you become an Internet fraud victim forget about recovering any funds that you may have lost.