Internet fraud often consists of scams that con artists have been using for years - only now they have a new medium and new victims to exploit.
Here are some tips to help you navigate safely through cyberspace:
- Make sure your children know never to give out their full name, address, or phone number.
- Never give anyone your bank account number, social security number, or other personal information that isn't absolutely needed to complete a transaction.
- Never give out your passwords. Your online provider will not ask for your password other than at first log-in. Change your passwords often and be creative. Use a combination of letters and numbers, uppercase and lowercase.
- Parents can install software to block access to sites with distasteful or hazardous content and control access to chat rooms, newsgroups, and messages from other subscribers.
- Shop online only with companies you know. If you don't know a company, ask for a printed catalog before you decide to order electronically.
- Use a secure browser that will encrypt or scramble purchase information. If you don't have encryption software, consider calling the company's 800 number, faxing your order, or paying with a check. Or look for software that can be downloaded from the Internet for free.
Top Internet Scams
- Business opportunities for franchises that are represented as more profitable than they really are.
- Internet-related services that are not delivered, such as designing a website. Equipment that isn't delivered or is a lower quality than promised.
- Pyramid schemes offering a chance to invest in an up-and-coming company with a guaranteed high return. You invest and must ask others to do the same. But when the pyramid collapses everyone loses - except the person at the top.
- Work-at-home schemes where individuals need to invest money in start-up services but don't earn enough money to recover the initial investment.