The Vault  February 2011: The World Wild Web
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Avoiding online scams
The Internet is awesome—many Biz Kid$ have gotten their businesses going on the Web. But it’s got a dark side, too. Scammers are standing by, waiting to steal your money, your credit card number, or your identity. So get wise—read this issue of The Vault for tips on avoiding computerized fraudsters!
Top tips
If you remember these simple tips, you’ll be much less likely to lose your money or your identity online.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Nobody sells a real Louis Vuitton bag for $20, and nobody makes $500 a day stuffing envelopes from home.
  • Be very careful who gets your credit card information—and never give out your social security number or other personal info.
  • Email is not secure. Someone asking for passwords or bank information that way is surely a scammer.
Field guide to fraudsters
The best way to avoid a scam is to know what one looks like! Here are a few of the top scams and ways to avoid them. For more tips, visit the Internet Crime Complaint Center at
Phishing emails direct you to fake (but real-looking) Web sites, ask for personal data, or give you a phone number to call.
  • Phishing emails and Web sites can look very real. Sometimes they even use a familiar logo. Be careful!
  • Legitimate companies will never ask you to provide your password or other personal information over the phone or via email. That’s a sure sign of a scam.
Auction fraud
Auction sites are great places to buy and sell your stuff. But they are also one of the biggest places that scams happen on the Internet.
  • Do business with buyers and sellers only in your own country. Once your money goes out of the country, it’s a lot harder to get it back.
  • If someone claims to be in the U.S. on the site but communicates with you from another country, stop the transaction.
  • Read feedback. Try to do business with people who have lots of positive ratings and few or no negative ones.
  • Use a credit card if you can so you can dispute the charges if necessary.
  • Never give the seller your credit card number directly. Buy through the auction site or a service like PayPal.
Credit Card Fraud
One nice thing about credit cards is that many offer built-in protection from fraudulent transactions. But it’s much better not to get scammed in the first place.
  • Ensure a Web site is secure before providing your credit card number. A secure connection will often have an “https” rather than an “http” before the Web address. Many browsers will show you a lock icon or other indication that the connection is secure.
  • Read your bank and credit card statements every month. Call the issuer if you see transactions you don’t recognize.
Think you’ve found an online scam? Report it at the FBI’s tips site here:
Posted in Biz Kid$ News