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Six Online Scam Deals To Avoid

Swindlers may be following your every tweet and post, looking for a chance to fleece you. Here’s how to confound some major online cons.

 

Free trial offer!

 

You see an Internet offer for a free one month trial of some amazing product – often a teeth whitener or a weight-loss programme.  All you pay is $5.95 for shipping and handling.

 

Buried in fine print, often in a colour that washes into the background, are terms that obligate you to pay $79 to $99 a month in fees, forever.

 

How to avoid it: Read the fine print on offers, and don’t believe every testimonial. Check TinEye.com, a search engine that scours the Web for identical photos. If that woman with perfect teeth shows up everywhere promoting different products, you can be fairly certain her “testimonial” is bogus.

 

Reputable companies will allow you to cancel, but if you can’t get out of a “contract,” cancel your card immediately, then negotiate a refund; if that doesn’t work, appeal to your credit card company.

 

Free Hotspot

 

You’re sitting in an airport or a coffee shop and you log into the local Wi-Fi zone. It could be free, or it could resemble a pay service. You get connected, and everything seems fine.

 

The reality is that the site only looks legitimate. It’s actually run by a nearby criminal from a laptop. If it’s a “free” site, the crook is mining your computer for banking, credit card, and other password information. If it’s a fake pay site, he gets your purchase payment, then sells your card number to other crooks.

 

Fake Wi-Fi hot spots are cropping up everywhere, and it can be difficult to tell them from the real thing. “Criminals duplicate the legitimate Web page of a Wi-Fi provider like Verizon or AT&T and tweak it so it sends your information to their laptop.”

 

How to avoid it Make sure you’re not set up to automatically connect to non-preferred networks. (For PCs, go to the Network and Sharing Centre in the Control Panel. Click on the link for the Wi-Fi network you’re currently using.

 

A box with a “General” tab should pop up. Click “Wireless Properties.” Then, uncheck the box next to “Connect automatically when this network is in range,” and click OK to enable. For Macs, click on the Wifi button in the upper right, click “Open Network Preferences,” and check “Ask to join new networks.”) Before traveling, buy a $20 Visa or MasterCard gift card to purchase airport Wi-Fi access (enough for two days) so you won’t broadcast your credit or debit card information. Or set up an advance account with providers at airports you’ll be visiting.

 

Your computer is infected! (And we can help)

 

A window pops up about a legitimate-sounding antivirus software program like “Antivirus XP 2010” or “SecurityTool,” alerting you that your machine has been infected with a dangerous bug. You’re prompted to click on a link that will run a scan. Of course, the virus is found—and for a fee, typically about $50, the company promises to clean up your computer.

 

The reality is;  When you click on the link, the bogus company installs malware on your computer. No surprise, there will be no cleanup. But the thieves have your credit card number, you’re out the money, and your computer is left on life support.

 

How to avoid: If you get a pop-up virus warning, close the window without clicking on any links. Then run a full system scan using legitimate, updated antivirus software like free editions of AVG Anti-Virus or ThreatFire  AntiVirus.

 

Love for sale

 

You meet someone on a dating site, on Facebook, in a chat room, or while playing a virtual game. You exchange pictures, talk on the phone. It soon becomes obvious that you were meant for each other. But the love of your life lives in a foreign country and needs money to get away from a cruel father or to get medical care or to buy a plane ticket so you can finally be together.

 

Your new love is a scam artist. There will be no tearful hug at the airport, no happily-ever-after. You will lose your money and possibly your faith in humankind.

 

Online social networking has opened up bold new avenues for heartless scammers who specialize in luring lonely people into bogus friendships and love affairs, only to steal their money.

 

Dating and social-networking sites can be a great way to meet new friends, even from foreign countries. But if someone you know only from the Web asks for money, sign off quickly.

 

A terrible scam-azon

 

You’re doing some online shopping, as one does. You see what looks like a great deal on Amazon, a site you totally trust, and place an order.

 

What’s really going on: The seller’s a scammer; they’re going to send you a counterfeit product, or nothing at all, and they’ll still get your money.

 

These scammers take advantage of Amazon’s policies to profit. They post delivery dates that are three or four weeks from the date of purchase. Since Amazon pays its sellers every two weeks, the scammers will receive payment long before you discover that it was a scam. This scam technique hurts not just buyers, but other sellers as well.

 

How to avoid it: Watch out for new sellers (also known as “just launched” sellers), and take a careful look at the seller’s reviews before you buy from him or her. If you do fall victim to a scam, contact Amazon; their A-to-Z guarantee says that they have to refund you if you received a fake product (or none at all). If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll also want to keep an eye out for this.

 

Travel scams

 

You get an email advertising an amazing deal on airline tickets to some exotic destination. Or, you see such a deal on the social media account of what appears to be a legitimate airline.

 

The reality: Like the “free trial” scam, these travel scams often have all sorts of extra costs hidden in the fine print behind that alluring cheap price. Most likely, you’ll end up with a lighter wallet and no plane ticket.

 

The peak time for these kinds of online scams is summertime, when people have vacation on the brain. They’re also common right before holidays such as Christmas and New Years. Scammers intentionally choose exotic, remote places that would be difficult to get to without their “amazing offer.” (That would make the world’s least visited country, which is stunningly beautiful, a perfect candidate!) Finally, they throw in an expiration date, saying that you’ve only got so many weeks or months to take advantage of this offer, hoping that a sense of urgency will rope you in.

 

Scour the details of the offer before clicking any sort of confirmation button, and certainly before giving any payment information. Make sure that what you see really is what you get. And, even if you crave a solo trip, it can’t hurt to get somebody else to look at the offer.   Another good tip is just to stick to travel agencies you trust; there are plenty of legitimate sites that still offer good deals.

Photo Credit: 
nbcnews.com

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