Internet Crime Prevention Tips

Published

Internet schemes that steal millions of dollars each year from individuals and business continue to grow.

The following are preventative measures that may help, prior to entering into transactions over the Internet:

AUCTION FRAUD

  • Before you bid on an Internet item, contact the seller with any questions you have.
  • Review the seller’s feedback on prior transactions before purchasing.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of the USA.
  • Ensure you understand refund, return, and warranty policies.
  • Determine the shipping charges before you buy.
  • Be wary if the seller only accepts wire transfers or cash.
  • If an escrow service is used, ensure it is legitimate.
  • Consider insuring your item.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited offers that you did not initiate.

COUNTERFEIT CASHIER’S CHECK

  • Inspect the cashier’s check.
  • Ensure the amount of the check matches in figures and words.
  • Check to see that the account number is not shiny in appearance.
  • Be watchful that the drawer’s signature is actual, and not simply traced from another legitimate check.
  • Official checks are generally perforated on at least one side.
  • Inspect the check for additions, deletions, or other alterations.
  • Contact the financial institution on which the check was drawn to ensure legitimacy.
  • Obtain the bank’s telephone number from a reliable 3rd party or direct source, not from the check itself.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of the USA.

CREDIT CARD FRAUD

  • Ensure a purchase site is secure and reputable before providing your credit card number online.
  • If purchasing merchandise, ensure it is from a reputable source.
  • Promptly reconcile credit card statements to avoid unauthorized charges.
  • Do your research to ensure legitimacy of the individual or company.
  • Beware of providing credit card information when requested through unsolicited emails.

DEBT ELIMINATION

  • Know who you are doing business with — do your research.
  • Obtain the name, address, and telephone number of the individual or company.
  • Research the individual or company to ensure they are authentic.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to determine the legitimacy of the company.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of the USA.
  • Ensure you understand all terms and conditions of any agreement.
  • Be wary of businesses that operate from P.O. boxes or maildrops.
  • Ask for names of other customers of the individual or company and contact them.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

DHL/UPS/FEDEX DELIVERY SERVICES

  • Beware of individuals using the DHL or UPS logo in any email communication.
  • Be suspicious when payment is requested by money transfer before the goods will be delivered.
  • Remember these service do not generally get involved in directly collecting payment from customers.
  • Fees associated with delivery transactions are only for shipping costs, and never for other costs associated with online transactions.
  • Contact the delivery agent directly if needed, to confirm the authenticity of email communications received.

EMPLOYMENT/BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES

  • Be wary of inflated claims of product effectiveness.
  • Be cautious of exaggerated claims of possible earnings or profits.
  • Beware when money is required up front for initial instructions or products.
  • Be leery when the job posting claims “no experience necessary”.
  • Do not give your social security number when first interacting with your prospective employer.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of the USA.
  • Be wary when replying to unsolicited emails (that you did not initiate) for work-at-home employment.
  • Research the company to ensure they are authentic.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to determine the legitimacy of the company.

ESCROW SERVICES FRAUD

  • Always type in the website address yourself rather than clicking on a link provided.
  • A legitimate website will be unique and will not duplicate the work of other companies.
  • Be cautious when a site requests payment to an “agent”, instead of a corporate entity.
  • Be leery of escrow sites that only accept wire transfers or e-currency.
  • Be watchful of spelling errors, grammar problems, or inconsistent information.
  • Beware of sites that have escrow fees that are unreasonably low.

IDENTITY THEFT

  • Ensure websites are secure (a “locked” icon in the upper left of browser window) prior to submitting your credit card number for any purchase.
  • Do your homework to ensure the business or website is legitimate.
  • Attempt to obtain a physical address, rather than a P.O. box or maildrop.
  • Never throw away your credit card or bank statements unless shredded.
  • Be aware of missed bills or statement mailings which could indicate your account has been taken over, with your mail sent elsewhere.
  • Be cautious of scams requiring you to provide your personal information.
  • Never give your credit card number over the phone unless you make the call.
  • Monitor your credit statements monthly for any fraudulent activity.
  • Report unauthorized transactions to your credit union or card company as soon as possible.
  • Review a copy of your credit report at least once a year.

INTERNET EXTORTION

  • Security and internet site access needs to be multi-layered so that numerous obstacles will be in the way of the intruder.
  • Ensure security is installed at every possible entry point.
  • Identify all your machines connected to the Internet and assess the defense that’s engaged to protect you.
  • Identify whether your computers or servers are utilizing any ports that have been known entry points for bad guys.
  • Ensure you are utilizing the most up-to-date patches for your software.

INVESTMENT FRAUD

  • If the “opportunity” appears too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Beware of promises to make fast profits.
  • Do not invest in anything unless you understand the deal.
  • If it sounds too complicated, step away – you’ll be safer and sleep better.
  • Don’t assume a company is legitimate based simply on a professional “appearance” of the website.
  • Be leery when responding to investment offers received through unsolicited email (where you didn’t initiate contact).
  • Be wary of investments that offer high returns at little or no risk.
  • Independently verify the terms of any investment that you intend to make.
  • Research the parties involved and the nature of the investment.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of the USA.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to determine the legitimacy of the company.

LOTTERIES

  • If lottery winnings appear too good to be true, they probably are (especially from outside the country where it’s hard to verify results).
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of the USA.
  • Be leery if you do not remember entering a lottery or contest, but have somehow “won”.
  • Be cautious if you receive a telephone call stating you are the winner in a lottery – true winners are required to initiate a claim of winnings.
  • Beware of lotteries that charge a fee prior to delivery of your prize.
  • Be wary of demands to send additional money to be eligible for future winnings.
  • It is a violation of federal law to play a foreign lottery via mail or phone.

NIGERIAN LETTER OR “419”

  • If the “opportunity” appears too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Do not reply to emails asking for personal banking information.
  • Be wary of individuals representing themselves as foreign government officials.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of the USA.
  • Beware when asked to assist in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
  • Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
  • Guard your personal account information carefully.
  • Be cautious when additional fees are requested of you, to further the transaction.

PHISHING/SPOOFING

  • Be suspicious of any unsolicited email requesting personal information.
  • Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the email to the link that you are actually directed to.
  • Log on to a company’s official website, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited email.
  • Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the email to verify if the email is genuine.

PONZI/PYRAMID

  • If the “opportunity” appears too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Beware of promises to make fast profits.
  • Exercise diligence in selecting investments.
  • Be vigilant in researching with whom you choose to invest.
  • Make sure you fully understand the investment prior to investing.
  • Be wary when you are required to bring in subsequent investors.
  • Independently verify the legitimacy of any investment.
  • Beware of references given by the promoter, and instead rely on intel from an independent party.

RESHIPPING

  • Be cautious if you are asked to ship packages to an “overseas home office.”
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of the USA.
  • Be leery if the individual states that his country will not allow direct business shipments from the United States.
  • Be wary if the “ship to” address is yours but the name on the package is not.
  • Never provide your personal information to strangers in a chatroom.
  • Don’t accept packages that you didn’t order.
  • If you receive packages that you didn’t order, either refuse them upon delivery or contact the company where the package is from.

SPAM

  • Don’t open spam or junk mail. Delete it unread.
  • Never respond to spam in any way, as this will confirm to the sender that it is a “live” email address to be sold to bad guys for future spam deliveries.
  • Have a primary and secondary email address – one for people you know, and one for all other purposes.
  • Never purchase anything advertised through an unsolicited email that you did not originate or request.

THIRD PARTY RECEIVER OF FUNDS

  • Do not agree to accept in, or wire out, payments for internet auctions or items that you did not post.
  • Be leery if the individual says that their country “makes receiving these type of funds difficult”.
  • Be cautious in responding to job postings that claim “no experience necessary”.

The safety and security of our Cherokee Strip Credit Union members is important. For more information, check out the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.