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How To Protect Yourself From Internet Fraud

Although millions of people do business over the Internet daily, one must remember that the Internet is a unique technology with the potential for many types of fraud. As a result, scam artists are constantly trying to create new e-schemes to take your money or identity. For this reason its very important that private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers and personal financial data, remains private during Internet transactions.

The internet is also an easy place to disguise ones real identity, so it's essential that you confirm who an individual is before conducting business with them. Scammers have "spoofed" legitimate sites, using a trusted company's real name, such as Paypal or E-bay, or by using a logo or a name so similar as to deliberately cause confusion. They then lure potential victims to give up confidential information such as credit card and social security numbers.

E-mail also allows countless people to be "spammed" with fraudulent offers similar to the one below:

Beware of the Cashier's Check Scam -
   You are trying to sell an item on the Internet. You get an offer from someone from a foreign country to buy your item. He/she tells you that someone in the US owes him money which is more than what you are asking for your item. He offers to have that person send you a cashier's check for the amount owed to him. You should then deposit the check, arrange for delivery of the item you are selling and mail him a personal check for the balance (because he/she trusts you so much!). Although a cashier's check can "clear" in a few hours, it can come back as counterfeit up to months later. The amount of the cashier's check will then be deducted from your checking account and the scammer has long since cashed your check.

To help protect our members at Gallery Direct, all e-mails sent to artists from our site will include the senders IP address and the City, and Country where the e-mail originated.

To help protect yourself from internet fraud you should follow a few simple rules:

1.   Donít let the excitement of an order cloud your judgement.
2.   Is the letter you received a Form Letter? Scammers often send form letters that are not personalized, use poor grammar, use words out of context, and express an urgent need for your artwork. A real buyer will know the exact piece they want and what price they are willing to pay, if they tell you they will pay anything you ask you should see big RED flags.
3.   Never ship your order until you receive the money and have allowed sufficient time for the payment to clear. For foreign orders this could mean up to 5 weeks. Remember that cheques bounce, money orders can be forged and Credit cards can be stolen. To safeguard against this, phone the Co. that has issued the payment.
4.   Never accept overpayments. A common scam is when the buyer adds an extra zero to the amount and hopes you issue a refund for the difference, or blatently asks if you will send the difference to a relative in another country!
5.   Often its best to ignore orders from 3rd world countries entirely. This is the most unlikely place for an art collector to live.

If you believe you have been approached by an internet scammer or are a victom of an internet scam, the best advise is to contact your local authorities and report it immediately. You should be aware that the while the authorities would like to help you, international scams are typically very hard to do anything about - the best way to avoid it is to follow common sense and the information outlined above and on other internet scam related websites.


References:

Federal Trade Commission
Canadian RCMP
West Tisbury Police Department, West Tisbury, MA, USA
and various Google searches on "Internet scams"

 
   



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