According to the FBI, online frauds are a growing concern for American consumers. In fact, there is about one scam attempted every 4 seconds in the United States. This means that any American can be victimized by a cybercrime at any time, and that’s why it’s so important to ensure your financial security in order to protect yourself from such scammers.
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The following tips should help you avoid becoming an Internet victim and safety guidelines you should know before using any online transactions of all types.
1. Know What You’re Buying
Make sure that you are buying what you really want and need, before making a purchase. If you see something you like at the website, ask some questions to the merchant before finalizing the transaction.
Ask if they are a reliable company, who they are based out of, what their return or cancellation policy is and how long it takes to get your money back. You should also ask them to send you documentation of their identity and contact information in case there’s a problem with the purchased merchandise or service.
The best way to make sure that you’re getting what you paid for is by purchasing from sites that have high ratings and reviews from others who have already purchased from them in the past.
2. Check for Security Certificates
One of the best ways to know you’re on a trusted site is by looking for the green bar that displays that the website is secured. This means that you are on a safe connection, which will protect your personal information when making online transactions.
3. Never Send Cash or Money Orders
Don’t send cash, check or money orders as a form of payment when shopping online. This might sound obvious, but so many people do it every year simply because they’re too lazy to walk down to their local bank and deposit said cash into their own accounts before buying what they want. The best way to ensure you’re paying with a safe form of payment online is by setting up an online banking account, which you can do for free at your local bank. This way, you’ll never have to worry about sending cash or money orders via snail mail again.
4. Avoid Using a Credit Card
Using a credit card on the Internet is like giving someone your social security number, just worse. If they get your card number and they use it without permission, it’s too late because your bank will hold you liable for any fraudulent charges made on your card before notifying you of the activity.
5. Be Careful Who You Greet Online
You should never meet anyone you’ve found on the Internet at a place you can’t check out first. If you see something you like, ask them to send a photo of the item before finalizing the transaction.
This way, you’ll know that it’s not a fake or counterfeit item before giving them any money. Not only will this prevent scammers from taking your money, it’ll also protect you from being ripped off by an honest person who accidentally purchased the wrong product for their needs and wants.
6. Use a Personal Computer
Never use a public computer to buy or sell anything on the Internet. This way, if your purchase goes wrong and you need to contact your bank, you will still have records of the transaction from your home computer and not someone else’s that could otherwise be erased remotely by a hacker.
7. Don’t Include Your Real Name
If you want to remain anonymous when using the Internet, don’t include your name as part of the shipping address or as part of an attachment to an email message you send out to potential buyers. You should also avoid posting personal information about yourself on forums or chat rooms online because this could lead to identity theft down the road if someone gets their hands on it.
8. Don’t Give Your Social Security Number
Don’t include your social security number and other personal information such as your address, phone number and email address on your profile page. If you do, you’re giving some of the scammers a piece of information that will help them steal money from your bank account through fraudulent transactions.
9. Be Wise When Using Online Payment Gateways
You should also be careful when dealing with payment gateways that are based overseas, especially if you’re making a small transaction. These payment gateways will hold your money hostage while they wait for the verification process, which could take a long time.