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Dealing With Online Fraud & Auction Scams

When it comes to doing things online, it's important that we always have a small amount of paranoia actively playing a role in our protection.  This is because the most dangerous internet fraud is always extremely convincing.   After all, if the scams weren't believable, they wouldn't work, and the scam artists wouldn't find it worth their while.

In fact, you've probably already come to automatically overlook a lot of the fraud that is quite present in your life.  Every day when SPAM e-mails arrive in our inboxes, we can choose either to read them or to delete them.  Often, this SPAM is cleverly disguised to look like an e-mail from a friend or from a financial institution with whom we do business.  These are the most dangerous, as they can fool us into letting down our guard and providing personal information that should not be shared.

Use the following tips that have been issued by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help protect yourself against people who would steal your money or your identity.

Many fraudulent e-mails, for example phishing e-mails or e-mails from bad eBay sellers, use trick websites that look like the legitimate site, but are slightly different.  Consider the following examples:

- PayPal's real website is https://www.paypal.com.  Many fraudulent e-mails will use links such as www.paypaI.com or www.paypa1.com.  Or the site simply won't match at all.  To avoid this problem, always go through the official website to make PayPal transactions and never use a link or button provided in an e-mail.

- eBay's real address is http://www.ebay.com.  Many fraudulent e-mails will try to trick you with e-mails that look like they're from eBay, but are actually false, such as www.insurancesecurity/ebay.com.  Yes, it has the word "ebay" in the domain, but the official site does not include the additional words.  Whenever you want to sign in to eBay, type the official website into your internet browser, and (again) never use links or buttons from an e-mail.

Even if you follow the links and the site looks to be official, you shouldn't be fooled.  It doesn't take much for a  phisher or scam artist to copy the look, style, and logos of an official website.  Always go through official channels and never simply assume that an e-mail you receive is from who it claims to be.  This is especially true if your full name is not used in the e-mail, as official e-mails will almost always include your correctly-spelled name.

Never forget that a reverse e-mail search can help you to identify who the real sender is, if you're ever uncertain of what to believe.

Email Spam & Scams