Always Make Sure you:
Identify who you’re dealing with.
Only deal with sellers who display a physical address (not a P.O. Box) and working phone number. With Skype and Vonage – and many other web-based products, it’s hard to identify where a call originates. Search for the company online, and check their reviews. If the reviews are primarily negative, you’ll have to decide if the offer is worth risking your investment.
Realize that wiring money is the same as sending cash.
One of the oldest cons on the books is getting people to wire money. This is especially dangerous if the money goes overseas, because there is no method for reversing the transaction or follows the money. You’re safest route is to simply not wire money to strangers, or sellers who demand wire transfers for payment. The same holds true for anyone claiming to be a relative or friend in an emergency who also requires secrecy.
Go through your monthly statements.
Account information is often stolen and then the thief runs up charges or commits crimes in your name. Beware of merchants who bill you for monthly “membership fees” and other services without your consent. If you see charges you don’t recognize or didn’t authorize, contact your bank or other credit card company immediately.
Donate only to established charities.
After a disaster strikes, many new charities spring up. Rather than donate to some entity you’ve never heard of, donate to Red Cross or some other organization you know will actually help the victims. Newly created charities, even if they are on the up and up, likely don’t have the infrastructure to get the help to the affected people, and they could be collecting the money to finance illegal activities. Before donating, check out AARPs “How Can I Tell If a Charity is real” article to learn more.
Consult with your doctor before buying health products or treatments.
You should ask about existing research supporting the product’s claims, any possible risks or side effects – and whether the cost-effect is worth your money, time and energy. Don’t ever buy prescription drugs from anywhere but licensed U.S. pharmacies. You would be amazed to learn how many products are placebos, beyond expiration, or intentionally mislabeled — don’t mistakenly buy products which could adversely affect your health. You can learn more about safely buying health products online.
Make sure you understand there is risk in every investment.
The truth of the matter is – low-risk, high-return investment opportunities simply do not exist. If someone comes to you with such an “opportunity”, just say “no”. When you hear marketing pitches insisting you act now – or guarantee big profits – or promise little or no financial risk – or specifically offers demanding that you send cash immediately, you can research and/or report them at ftc.gov.
Always Make Sure You Do Not:
Send money to a stranger.
Not anyone. Not online businesses you’ve just learned of — or an online “friend” who asks for money. Only do business with sites you know are honest. If you’re forced by necessity to buy something via online auction, only participate if an option exists which provides protection, such as paying by credit card.
If you think you’ve found a great deal with a new company, check them out. Google the company or product and include search terms such as “complaints,” or “scams.” Browse through what information comes up in the search results. Never pay upfront charges for empty promise. This holds true regardless of whether you are applying for a loan, going after a job, seeking a grant or a trying to win a “prize”.
Deposit a check and wire money back to anyone.
Banks are obligated by law to make funds from deposited checks available within days, but a fake check can take weeks to reveal itself. Meanwhile, if the check you deposit turns out to be fraudulent, you’re on the hook for whatever funds were moved from the the bank. Remember, scammers are great at creating scenarios, but anyone who overpays with a check in exchange for cash is definitely a scam artist.
Reply to inquiries about your personal or financial information.
It doesn’t matter how the message is delivered – email, phone, text message, or ad. Do not respond to these types of requests. Most likely, it’s a phishing scam. You can learn much more about it at the Visa site.
These messages try to trick you into revealing sensitive information. If you get any odd messages you think are phishing queries, call your credit or debit Card Company and make sure you haven’t been taken for a ride.
Bet on foreign lottery games.
It’s illegal in the US – and many other countries, to play foreign lotteries. You may get email messages claiming you have a high percentage chance of winning – or even claim you’ve already won. The message will state that all you have to do is pay the “taxes,” “fees,” or “customs duties” to collect your winnings. This would be great, but if you send the money to collect, you’ve already lost the money you sent.