Fraud Center: Tips for Avoiding Online Fraud

9 Questions to Ask for Avoiding Internet Fraud
  1. Who is this?
    Do you know the seller/operator? Did it come from an unsolicited email? It is typical to receive follow up offers or solicitations from companies or charities you have done business with previously. However, offers or promotions coming from unknown entities should be scrutinized closely. Check for seller feedback on forums or consumer review websites. Confirm the physical address and customer service phone number of the seller/operator.
  2. Can you confirm you are not dealing with an impostor?
    Many scams are perpetrated by an impostor pretending to be a seller/operator that you normally trust. Stay aware of unusual domain names, inaccurate information or anything suspicious. If you aren't sure, contact the business through a confirmed number or source and ask questions.
  3. Are there complaints?
    Look for bad customer feedback or complaints against the seller/operator. Finding no complaints is not necessarily a good sign either as illegitimate seller/operators may move quickly to setup a scam before complaints can be registered.
  4. Do they offer easy money?
    Claims of easy loans or credit, payment for little or no work, or no risk investments should always be viewed with suspicion.
  5. Does the offer make sense?
    Make sure you understand the price, delivered product, time-frames and refund/cancellation policies of the seller/operator. Legitimate seller/operators will be able to provide all necessary information.
  6. Is the seller/operator pressuring you?
    Seller/operators attempting to get you to make quick decisions, claiming they won't take no for an answer or insisting that an offer is only available now should be avoided.
  7. Does the seller/operator want personal information?
    The only reason a seller/operator would need your social security number is if you are applying for credit. Bank account or credit card information should only be needed if you are making a purchase. Be suspicious and play it safe with anyone asking for personal information from a company that would already have your information on file.
  8. Are you asked to download programs?
    Only download from legitimate websites that you are familiar with. Viruses that can pull personal information or damage your computer are easily embedded in seemingly innocuous downloads.
  9. Can you pay with a credit card?
    Online purchases are best completed with a credit card. Federal law limits your liability for unauthorized purchases and you may easily dispute charges for unrelieved goods or misrepresented offers.

Important contacts if you suspect online fraud