How to Avoid Online Scams

| September 19, 2013
A screen shot of censoring the ...

A screen shot of censoring the “adult services section” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These days, protecting your personal information and avoiding online scams is an important part of financial prudence. While most internet users are savvy enough to realize that an email coming from a supposed Nigerian prince is probably too good to be true, today’s online scams are getting increasingly more devious — and even experienced users are losing money and having their privacy violated.

Here are a few sure-fire tips to avoid getting scammed online:

Double-check email addresses

This is especially important if you receive something from anyone claiming to be your bank. Many spammers will use addresses that look very familiar and emails that look official. Never give out your banking information in response to an email query — if you bank online, only do so at your financial institution’s official website, which will have proper security protection.


If you’ve ever sold anything on Craigslist, you probably remember the first time you got an offer that was too good to be true. A buyer from out of state has taken a unique interest in your old PlayStation and will pay above asking price to have it shipped overseas to them. When you sell anything online, always deal with local buyers face-to-face, or use a reputable service such as eBay that has some accountability built in.

Dating woes

More and more people are looking online for their next relationship, and while a lot of successful matches have been made, lots of people have been burned, too. Sometimes, so-called “catfishing” is just a malicious prank. For other online daters, however, a false paramour has caused them to lose money or even risk jail time by doing something illegal.

Always meet in person before agreeing to lend someone money or do anything bizarre at their request. You can also copy their profile pic and run a Google Reverse Image Search to see if it was stolen from another website.

Pop-up problems

Be very suspicious of pop-ups advising that you have a virus or that your drivers need to be updated to view a certain file. Some are very cleverly disguised to look like a warning coming from your own computer. Only download updates of anything directly from the product’s manufacturer.

Extravagant promises

We all want to change our lives in a positive way, and many of us are hooked on the idea that one little thing will cure all our problems. If there were addiction rehab centers for this kind of optimism, I’m sure they would do great business. But the truth is, if there’s a reputable cure for cancer or baldness, a safe way to lose weight without exercising, or an easy place to meet sexy local singles looking to hookup, you won’t find it in a sketchy corner of the internet.

We all us the internet and most of us do a lot of our shopping and banking online, too. Protecting your privacy and being aware of scams is simply a new reality of prudent financial management. With caution and common sense, anyone can avoid being a victim.

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