21 Mar

Written by Kathryn Vercillo on March 21, 2009

The Internet can be used as an amazing money saving tool. Unfortunately, all good things have their bad side and the Internet can also be something that sucks your money away from you faster than you can say “www”. One of the worst ways that the Internet can cause you to lose money is by making you the victim of an online scam. There are tons of scams out there designed to take your money out of your pocket and put it into someone else’s bank account. So what can you do to make sure that you don’t get scammed online while trying to use the Internet to save money? Quite a few things actually.

Get Knowledgeable About Online Scams

The single most important thing that you can do to avoid getting scammed out of your money online is to arm yourself with knowledge about online scams. You should read up on this topic throughout the Internet to get a foundation of information about scams so that you know what’s out there. You should also regularly read news about the latest online scams. You can create an RSS feed in Google News with the phrase “online scam” to have headlines about that topic delivered directly to your computer. In this way, the Internet becomes a tool to protect you from online scams rather than to make you a victim of them. The more you know about online scams, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to avoid them.

Get Your Money Saving Information from Credible Resources

When you start learning more about saving money online and generally engaging in frugal living, you want to think carefully about the resources that you’re choosing to trust. There are many great money saving blogs and news sites out there but there are also a lot of promotional sites that exist for the purpose of scamming you. When looking at a new website, consider the amount of advertising on it, the types of comments that it receives and how credible it appears to you before you decide to take the information there to be accurate and reliable.

Don’t Take Most Email Offers Seriously

If you get offers in your email inbox that say that they’re designed to save you money, you should probably delete them. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. If you sign up for newsletters and website announcements about deals from your favorite websites then it’s perfectly fine to read through them for information on saving money. However, if you’re getting random announcements in your inbox that have anything to do with saving money or making money, you should be wary. We all know about those Nigerian bank schemes but those aren’t the only ones out there so make sure that you don’t fall prey to those types of email scams.

Ignore Pop-Ups

There is rarely any good, important or interesting information that turns up in a pop-up ad but there are a lot of online scams that start this way. Avoid pop-ups altogether by updating your computer’s security settings and software so that pop-ups aren’t even allowed to come up on your computer. Just by taking this simple step, you’ll save yourself from a lot of trouble with online scams.

Be Careful About Who You Add on Social Networking Sites

If you use social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter then you should be careful about who you add on those sites. Many people will use these sites to convince you to get involved in online scams. They do this by building up your trust through conversations on the site that seem friendly and then they recommend that you try out a deal online. There’s nothing wrong with making online connections but do some background research into who someone is before you make them your “friend”.

Background Checks

When you do decide to engage in financial transactions online, you should do so with some background information in hand. You should always check into any business that you do online business with by seeing if there are Better Business Bureau Reports about them, making sure that they have a physical address and phone number that you can contact them through and seeing if there are any forum posts warning for or against the business. The National Fraud Information Center and the local AG’s office are other good places to check the reputation of online businesses. Doing your homework before doing your online shopping saves you a lot of trouble from online scams.

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True …

If you’re only going to follow one single rule about avoiding online scams then you should probably make that rule the one that says “if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is”. There are good deals out there but there are not magical deals that will give you a whole lot of something for nothing. If anything that you’re looking at online sounds like it’s too good to be true (whether you initiated it by visiting a website or someone else contacted you with an email or link) then you should assume that the deal probably has some sort of scam involved and you should proceed only with caution.

You Almost Never Actually Win Prizes Online

One of the biggest things that comes up as a “sounds too good to be true” situation is the issue of winning prizes online. Most people know that emails and announcements telling them that they’ve won the lottery or other prizes are probably online scams. And yet, a lot of people try to find out if they really won anyway because there’s just a lot of false hope there that perhaps they really did win something this time. You probably didn’t and thinking that you might is going to get you scammed.

Ask Yourself If Things Are Appealing to your Emotions

One of the key ways to tell that something is a scam (online or offline) is to pay attention to whether the deal is giving you actual facts or just appealing to your emotions. For example, you may see a blog post about a really great cause for children that shares the stories of children in need. Your heartstrings are tugged and your purse strings open up. That’s fine and dandy but if there aren’t some facts and details involved that aren’t solely based on emotion then there is a good chance that you just got scammed out of your money.

Read the Fine Print

When it comes to any kind of financial transaction that is going to take place online, the best thing that you can do to protect yourself from scams is to actually take the time to read the fine print of the deal. Whenever you go to a website to purchase a product, there is required to be a terms and agreements for you to sign. You need to read that carefully, look out for red flags and areas of concern and make sure that you fully understand the details of the transaction so that you don’t get scammed.

Trust your Gut

If you spend enough time online then you probably already have a good gut sense about which deals on the Internet are real and which are scams. Unfortunately, we often ignore our gut instincts because we’re so hungry to get good deals online. If you learn to trust your gut then you’ll find that you probably avoid a lot of the online scams that otherwise might have sucked you in and taken your money out of your pocket.

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  1. 3

    Jacquline Auchmoody
    May 27th, 2010

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  2. 2

    pay pal verification
    March 28th, 2010

    Anyone who dosent agree with probley have not read this whole blog through and thats truely ashame.

  3. 1

    A Frugal Friend
    March 23rd, 2009

    I just found your site ……great! Good discussion of online safety.

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