“I never thought it would happen to me,” the email began.
“I almost got scammed….”
My friend Sala who was attempting to sell her computer on Amazon. Someone asked her to send the computer directly to him and offered to pay more than the asking price. He also offered to pay about $200 for shipping. He then starting saying that he was having issues with his credit card and he would send a check. Although Sala was new with the world offline commerce, she became suspicious when she realized how much the buyer was rushing her. With a bit of research (thanks Google! ), she found that he had already been identified as an online scammer.
Sala definitely avoided a headache. The truth is online scammers are a new frontier. And they’re dangerous. Dangerous because they are “invisible”. They are also sneaky because you could provide them with all the data they need without ever knowing it. But when done properly, the online buying and selling world is actually very fun, easy and safe. Here are a few ways to be safe online.
1) Never use your personal emails. Amazon/eBay/PayPal have emails for you to use. Always and ONLY use that email. This way, if someone does scam you, the company of the online marketplace will protect you. Also, the less information they have about you (i.e. your email) the better.
2) Money transactions should only be done formally. Never send checks or credit card information to anyone. Money is always mediated by the website. All transactions should be done through the website. Anyone “having credit card problems” or trying to work outside the system is up to something. PayPal is amazing because it minimizes damage in case of a scam. For example, I only have $100 in my account is if you hacked it, that’s all you’d get. And even more so, PayPal will reimburse me.
3) If you do give out your personal email (which you shouldn’t), never use links anyone sends you. Many times people in “a hurry” set up the links so that they gather your user name and password through a mirror website (a site looking similar to the original site) and key trackers (bugs that know what you are typing). All major buying sites have built in safety features. Look for the Verisign identity protection symbol at the bottom etc.
4) When you get emails from your banks, mint.com, PayPal, Amazon, eBay etc, always check the “from” address. If it looks really strange, don’t reply and delete/block it. Also, again never use links send to you via email. If Bank of America sends you an email telling you to check your statement, make a habit of going to their website and then navigating from there. This will avoid the possibility of a mirror website scandal.