The best way to recognize an online scam: If it is too good to be true, it is.
Never trust any offer that makes you think, 'why isn't everyone taking up this offer?', or'if it is that good, why isn't everyone taking up on it?"
The next best way to avoid online scams:
Always deal locally, face-to-face.
1. Examples of online scams
- They claim your transaction is guaranteed, that a buyer/seller is officially certified, OR that a third party of any kind will handle or provide protection for a payment.
- They offer a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier's check.
- They request wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram.
- They offer to send you a cashier's check or money order and then have you wire money.
- They offer use of an online escrow service (which is usually operated by they themselves).
- They ask for a partial payment upfront, after which they will ship goods
- They offer you a job receiving payments from customers, then wiring funds
2. Search online for 'scam emails' to educate yourself better against online scams.
Basically, run far away on mention of 'handling fees', 'High-Profit No-Risk', or any charity that is timed with latest disaster/big issue in the news.
3. Beware of email scams
- Always check the actual email address of the sender. Don't trust 'Paypal Payments'. See if the email address is actually 'firstname.lastname@example.org'.
Check the domain name and verify it by moving your cursor over the link and see the underlying link.
4. Beware of fake/hoax websites
Check if the web url correctly displays the company name. And check if it has a padlock sign - most safe websites now have 'https' in their address.
5. Never disclose personal information via email.
No trusted service will ask for yout credit and debit card numbers, bank account numbers, driving licence numbers, email addresses, passwords etc
What to do if you suspect of being a victim of phishing: Seeing strange activity or unfamiliar posts on your account page? Immediately change your password immediately and go through all your posts on Truho.
You must read this Craigslist guide to phishing (when fraudsters send you official looking emails as if they are from big trusted sources)
6. When selling online
Never disclose your personal email address when listing your products/service. Create a separate email id.
8. Some resources on dealing with online scames
Avoiding scams (guide on Craigslist)
Avoiding scams (guide on Paypal)
Charity Navigator (to check for fake charities)
FTC complaint form and hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)