Internet Fraud

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Technology and the internet has become part of our daily routines and criminals have found more opportunities to take advantage of unsuspecting users of these tools. More internet scams are uncovered every day, and while some of them seem quite obvious, others are not, and we are all potential victims.

The West Chester Police Department and the FBI encourage all to consider the following advice with regard to internet fraud.

Avoiding internet auction fraud:

  • Research how the auction works, your obligations as a buyer and the sellers obligations before bidding.
  • Find out what action the website takes if a problem occurs and consider insuring the transaction and shipment.
  • Research the seller, especially if the only available information is an email address. If it is a business, check with the Better Business Bureau in the state the business residents. If the seller is an individual, carefully study reviews from others who have purchased from the seller.
  • Determine what type of payment is expected and where payment is to be sent.
  • If possible, purchase items online using a credit card with a low credit limit. Credit card companies often provide ways in which to dispute charges.
  • Be especially cautious when working with sellers outside the United States. If there is a problem, it will be easier to correct.
  • Ask the seller when delivery should be expected and whether the merchandise is protected by warranty.
  • Make sure there are no unexpected costs, including whether shipping and handling is included in the auction price.
  • There should never be a reason to provide your social security number or driver's license number to the seller.

Avoiding non-delivery of merchandise:

  • Make sure your purchase is from a reputable source.
  • Research the company or individual to ensure they are legitimate.
  • Obtain a physical address rather than just a post office box, and a telephone number. Call the seller to make sure the number works and goes to the seller.
  • Send an email to the seller to make sure the email address is active and be wary of those who use free email services where a credit card wasn't required to open the account.
  • Consider not buying from sellers unwilling to provide this information.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau in the state where the business is based.
  • Check out other websites regarding the seller.
  • Don't judge the seller by his/her website. It is fairly simple to set up a nice website.
  • Be cautious when responding to special investment opportunities, especially when unsolicited.
  • Be cautious when dealing with companies outside the United States.
  • Inquire about warranties and returns.If possible, purchase items online using a credit card with a low credit limit. Credit card companies often provide ways in which to dispute charges.
  • Make sure the transaction is secure when entering a credit card number. Do not provide credit number in an email.
  • Consider using an escrow or alternate payment service.

Avoiding credit card fraud:

  • Don't give out your credit card number online unless the site is secure and reputable. Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to represent a higher level of security. This icon is not a guarantee of security, but provides some assurance.
  • Don't trust a site just because it claims to be secure.
  • Before using the site, check out the security/encrytion software it uses.
  • Make sure you're purchasing from a reputable source.
  • Research the individual/company to make sure they are legitimate.Obtain a physical address rather than just a post office box, and a telephone number. Call the seller to make sure the number works and goes to the seller.
  • Send an email to the seller to make sure the email address is active and be wary of those who use free email services where a credit card wasn't required to open the account.
  • Consider not buying from sellers unwilling to provide this information.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau in the state where the business is based.
  • Be cautious when dealing with companies outside the United States.
  • Keep a list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card issuers' contact information. If anything looks suspicious or your cards are lost, contact the card issuer immediately.

Avoiding investment fraud:

  • Don't judge a person or company by his/her website. It is fairly simple to set up a nice website.
  • Don't invest in anything you are not absolutely sure about. Research the investment and company thoroughly to ensure they are legitimate.
  • Check out other websites about this person/company.
  • Be cautious when responding to special investment opportunities, especially when unsolicited.
  • Be cautious when dealing with companies outside the United States.
  • Inquire about all terms and conditions.

Avoiding business fraud:

  • Purchase merchandise from reputable dealers or establishments.
  • Obtain a physical address rather than just a post office box, and a telephone number. Call the seller to make sure the number works and goes to the seller.
  • Send an email to the seller to make sure the email address is active and be wary of those who use free email services where a credit card wasn't required to open the account.
  • Consider not buying from sellers unwilling to provide this information.
  • Purchase merchandise directly from the individual/company that holds the trademark, copyright or patent.

Avoiding the Nigerian letter or "419" fraud:

  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials asking for help in placing money in overseas bank accounts.
  • Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
  • Guard your account information carefully.