Ways to Avoid Scams Online and Off

The best ways to avoid scams online and off begins with being able to identify them.

Let’s start with the simplest of examples.  Have you ever gotten a call from a telephone solicitor?  Have they ever told you that you signed up somewhere online with one of their websites because you were interested in making more money? Did you really ever sign up on a website AND give them your phone number?

It’s likely, you didn’t.

As an online marketer, I get these kind of calls all of the time.  I usually just politely tell them that I never signed up for their site and ask them to remove my name from their contact list.  If they continue to pester me for information, or just keep rattling off their script,  then I get a little stern and inform them “I’m not interested” and “I’m hanging up now, please remove me from your list”.  If they’re still talking as I hang up the phone, that’s OK, because I don’t feel guilty for dropping that call like a hot potato.

Why?  Because the way I see it, for the most part anyway, it’s a scammer.  I don’t give out my phone number when I sign up for online information (and believe me I used to sign up a LOT!), but when someone goes to great lengths to get my phone number and calls me around dinner time, I’m usually on to what they’re trying to accomplish…they’re looking for my money.

How to Identify a Scam

It’s not really that difficult.  Think about it, there aren’t too many companies out there that rely on phone sales through cold-calling anymore, unless you fill out a card at the mall or something.  Most callers find your number through databases or website searches.  They’re looking for your personal information to feed you a line about a new business opportunity.  Basically, they’re looking for your credit card number.

Here’s a quick tip:

NEVER give out your CC # on the phone, ESPECIALLY IF YOU DIDN’T MAKE THE CALL!

Pretty simple, right?  Well, you ‘d be shocked at how many people do it everyday…

Now don’t get me wrong, I give out my plastic digits on the phone all the time… But it’s when I’m talking to people who are working for legitimate companies that I have sought out in order to buy their products.  And even then, I would prefer to put my CC# in a box on a web form than send it over the air waves via Ma Bell (old-speak for telephone company!).

Online Scams are EVERYWHERE!  Don’t be the fool.

The number of ways you can be taken advantage of on the internet are bountiful.  Just some of these ways include:

  • Pop-Up Window Scams
  • Virus Scams
  • Email Scams
  • Bogus Posts to your Social Networks
  • Instant Messaging from unknown “friends”
  • SMS/Text Messaging Scams from Computers
  • Telephone Calls from Computers
  • MLM/Direct Sales Schemes
  • Get Rich Quick Scams
  • Craigslist Scams
  • …and the list goes on and on.

A Few Ways to Avoid Trouble

Pop-Up Windows

Usually these involve instant pop-ups or “hover over” links within webpages that you are browsing after searches that try to convince you your computer has a virus or requires a full system scan to get a “tune-up”.  Never click on these, their malware and can do harm to your computer.

Virus Scams

The FBI just recently reported on a virus scam that is in effect and looks like a lock out by the FBI on your computer for any number of “unlawful” reasons.  The criminal mind behind the virus requests payment for a release of the lock-up so you can continue to use your computer.  Visit the IC3 – Internet Crimes Complaint Center to report this virus if you encounter it.

Email Scams

If I were to open my email account right now, I probably have at least 50 of these types of cyber crime infesting my “spam” or “junk mail” folder.   They’re good for a laugh, but never open these, you could accidentally click on a link that could infect your computer with malware.  Just delete them all.

Instant Messaging From Unknown “Friends”

You may get an IM from someone who is not your friend.  These people usually try to be really nice to you and butter you up with terms like “lover” or “darling” or “beautiful”.   If someone on the street spoke to you like this would you give them an ear?  Check them out first!  If the message came through your “Other” folder, it’s usually a waste of your time, but I have seem friends messages get put there before.

Note:  People who are NOT your friends CAN send you an IM by paying Facebook $1 to send the message! (Believe it or not!)

Usually the profiles of these people are very empty, limited, a couple pictures or friends (they may draw hundreds of suckers called “men” if they use a pic of  a pretty girl).  Sometimes they don’t even post a profile pic.  Stay clear of these folks.  They will spend a lot of time (days or weeks or months) getting on your good side, trying to get information from you.  When the time is right, they’ll tell you their mother is in the hospital and they need thousands of dollars of “charity” to help them out.   Trust me, I’ve been there.

SMS/Text Messaging from Computers

If you ever get a text from a number (ie. 90293023) or someone you don’t know asking you to click on a link or check something out… first send a text that says “STOP” (by law they must), then delete the message and carry on.  Not worth your time.

Telephone Calls from Computers

I hang up…if you like talking to computers, go right ahead…

MLM/Direct Sales Schemes

This particular “business model” requires more than a blurb to bring clarity to anyone that believes its a viable sales process.  I know enough about them to keep me at arms length.  Let’s just say this…  The law requires that 70% of sales by MLM companies has to come from products sold to those outside of the distributor chain.  That rarely, IF EVER, happens in ANY MLM.

The flow of money is made by recruiting more members who in turn recruit more members… they do everything in their power to avoid being tagged as a “pyramid scheme”.  But they are. Period.  Only problem with enforcement of the law is that the Feds/States don’t have the resources they should have to shut all these unethical business wanna-bees down.  It’s a sad reality, and people at the bottom are being taken to the cleaners every day.  If you’re still unsure, read this: 10 Big Lies of Multi-Level Marketing

“Get Rich Quick” Schemes

If a website says you’ll make a butt-load of money in 30-90 days…RUN!  You (or someone else) may make a little money at the start or may make a ton of money after 90 days or so, but you may also get yourself in trouble if you get involved with the wrong program.  For many of these fly-by-night programs, there’s usually a fee to “get in” (kinda like the ground floor opportunity of the MLM type). Sorry to burst your bubble, but there are no magic money buttons or trees growing $100 bills.  As the old adage goes: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.

Craigslist Scams

There are lots of ways to get scammed (or even shot!) using Craig’s List.  This isn’t to scare you away from using this awesome website …I personally think it ROCKS!  However, there have been some horror stories of people showing up in not-so-public places and getting robbed, ripped-off, and even killed while “making the deal” that was agreed to between parties.

If you don’t know the buyer or seller (which is usually the case) then try to meet the person in a public place, near a police station if possible.  Both buyers and sellers can be taken advantage of here, so proceed with caution. Let people know when and where you’re going, better yet…take someone with you or perhaps have them follow you, (preferably someone with a concealed carry permit! 🙂  Don’t take any more cash or merchandise than you need to close the deal.  Get the deal done and get out of there.  No need for idle chit-chat with strangers.

…and the list goes on and on.

These are just a few off the top of my head for now.  In the near future, I’ll go into a little more detail on several of these hoaxers and con artists.

Until then, please leave me a comment below and share this with anyone who might benefit!

leland-best

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Written by 

Leland Best has worn many hats over the past 30 years. He has trained and certified in Radio/TV/CATV Production, Automotive Design, Firefighting and Fire/Water Damage Restoration. During his 25 year career as a Civil Designer, his home-based business served several Fortune 500's. He has been working with computers and the internet since their inceptions. Leland and his wife Jenna now call the Shiawassee River their home where he follows his passion as an author, LIVE video streamer, video producer and affiliate website builder under the guise of The Megabit Affiliate™.

4 thoughts on “Ways to Avoid Scams Online and Off”

  1. Hi,

    Great tips and advice to avoid scams online. There are so many scammers with shady tactics that it`s really hard sometime to see if it`s for “real” or not.

    This is a great read though, great advice on how to spot and stay away from scams,

    Thanks,
    Vicky

    1. Hey Vicky! I think as internet users, we’ve all been taken in by one form of scam or another. It’s always good to be aware of what’s out there… I deal with people facing these problems all the time!

  2. Thanks for the info on scams. It’s so hard to know sometimes who is telling the truth or not. The thing I hate the most is getting messages from someone who talks like they know you. I get the pop up message telling me that my computer has issues, only at work. Home I have a Mac and never get those. Not sure why..

    1. Hi Liz, the main reason why you don’t get those pop-ups on your Apple is because it’s not even close to vulnerable when it comes to these kind of hackers! Most of the real problems come from the fact that Windows systems are so easy to compromise. Be glad you have a Mac! I’m looking forward to the day I get my hands on one. I started writing code for Apple 2c back in 1983. It was a much different experience then!

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