Scams that commonly target seniors: Internet fraud

As web use among senior citizens increases, so does their chances to fall victim to Internet fraud. Internet Fraud includes non-delivery of items ordered online and credit and debit card scams. 

Tips for Avoiding Internet Auction Fraud :

  • Understand as much as possible about how the auction works, what your obligations are as a buyer, and what the seller's obligations are before you bid.
  • Find out what actions the website/company takes if a problem occurs and consider insuring the transaction and shipment.
  • Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address. If it is a business, check the Better Business Bureau where the seller/business is located.
  • Examine the feedback on the seller.
  • Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and where he/she is asking to send payment.
  • If possible, purchase items online using your credit card, because you can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  • Be cautious when dealing with sellers outside the United States. If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more difficult to rectify.
  • Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and whether the merchandise is covered by a warranty or can be exchanged if there is a problem.
  • Make sure there are no unexpected costs, including whether shipping and handling is included in the auction price.
  • There should be no reason to give out your social security number or driver's license number to the seller.

Tips for Avoiding Non-Delivery of Merchandise :

  • Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source.
  • Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.
  • Obtain a physical address rather than simply a post office box and a telephone number, and call the seller to see if the telephone number is correct and working.
  • Send an e-mail to the seller to make sure the e-mail address is active, and be wary of those that utilize free e-mail services where a credit card wasn't required to open the account.
  • Consider not purchasing from sellers who won't provide you with this type of information.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller's area.
  • Check out other websites regarding this person/company.
  • Don't judge a person or company by their website. Flashy websites can be set up quickly.
  • Be cautious when responding to special investment offers, especially through unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
  • Inquire about returns and warranties.
  • If possible, purchase items online using your credit card, because you can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  • Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card numbers.
  • Consider using an escrow or alternate payment service.

Tips for Avoiding Credit Card Fraud :

  • Don't give out your credit card number online unless the site is a secure and reputable. Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a higher level of security to transmit data. This icon is not a guarantee of a secure site, but provides some assurance.
  • Don't trust a site just because it claims to be secure.
  • Before using the site, check out the security/encryption software it uses.
  • Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source.
  • Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.
  • Obtain a physical address rather than simply a post office box and a telephone number, and call the seller to see if the telephone number is correct and working.
  • Send an e-mail to the seller to make sure the e-mail address is active, and be wary of those that utilize free e-mail services where a credit card wasn't required to open the account.
  • Consider not purchasing from sellers who won't provide you with this type of information.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller's area.
  • Check out other websites regarding this person/company.
  • Don't judge a person or company by their website. Flashy websites can be set up quickly.
  • Be cautious when responding to special investment offers, especially through unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
  • If possible, purchase items online using your credit card, because you can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  • Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card number.
  • Keep a list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card issuer's contact information. If anything looks suspicious or you lose your credit card(s), contact the card issuer immediately.

Tips for Avoiding Investment Fraud :

  • Don't judge a person or company by their website. Flashy websites can be set up quickly.
  • Don't invest in anything you are not absolutely sure about. Do your homework on
    • the investment and the company to ensure that they are legitimate.
    • Check out other websites regarding this person/company.
    • Be cautious when responding to special investment offers, especially through unsolicited e-mail.
    • Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
    • Inquire about all the terms and conditions.

    Tips for Avoiding Business Fraud :

    • Purchase merchandise from reputable dealers or establishments.
    • Obtain a physical address rather than simply a post office box and a telephone number, and call the seller to see if the telephone number is correct and working.
    • Send an e-mail to the seller to make sure the e-mail address is active, and be wary of those that utilize free e-mail services where a credit card wasn't required to open the account.
    • Consider not purchasing from sellers who won't provide you with this type of information.
    • Purchase merchandise directly from the individual/company that holds the trademark, copyright, or patent.

    Tips for Avoiding the Nigerian Letter or "419" Fraud :

     

    • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials asking for your help 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 account information carefully.

    Information from the FBI's webpage   Fraud Target: Senior Citizens  .


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