E-mail Scams... Don't get Caught

November 2, 2007 2:56pm CST
BEWARE of EMAIL SCAMS Most scams start out acting as genuine buyers. But they invariably do several things: They always say it is urgent to close the deal quickly! They offer to pay with a third party check, bank check, money order, travelers checks. Usually given some bogus reason that a client owes them money. The check amount is larger than the purchase price. They want you to wire the difference between the purchase price and the check amount. They want assurances they they can trust you with their money. Normally, once you reply saying you suspect a scam--the emails will stop! These individuals are asking to buy the equipment and have it shipped to another country. The scam is to offer to pay for the equipment with a cashiers check or travelers check. The email normally states that they have a client that owes them money that cannot be sent directly to them. They want to buy the equipment for an amount in excess of its value and then pay with a cashiers check. They then want the difference in the purchase amount wired to them. The scam is simple......it is a forged cashiers check or travelers check that usually takes 2 - 3 weeks to clear (or more accurately not clear). They never intend to receive the equipment at all. If you are selling an item NEVER send anyone money! They should be sending you money! The safest approach for people selling equipment is to wait for the money to actually clear in your bank account prior to sending anything. Be highly suspect of anyone from an overseas location (e.g., Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, England), or anyone claiming to be a third-party equipment broker, or anyone claiming the need is urgent - ASAP - immediate. Scam artists always want you to react quickly so they can get away before you figure out that you've been cheated. Most of the legitimate traffic on this website is direct doctor-to-doctor transactions within the USA and Canada. If they claim to be an equipment dealer/broker AND they have some free email account (e.g., yahoo, hotmail, juno, skatepile, etc.) they are probably a scam cheat. Consumers are making an increasing number of purchases over the Internet. The Internet offers great convenience, but consumers who make purchases over the Internet should use the same caution that they do with companies who solicit them through other means. Many of the same tactics used by dishonest people in the past over the phone or through the mail, are now used on the Internet. Failure to deliver paid-for items, failure to pay, fraudulent investment offers, multi-level marketing or pyramid schemes, and the familiar postal chain letters are just a few of the old tried-and-true scams which have been converted for use on the Internet. Fraudulent companies can literally disappear into "cyberspace," erasing all traces of their operation and leaving you with few remedies against them. Therefore, especially on the Internet, keep in mind that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Specifically, the Attorney General offers these tips to consumers: Order from companies you have previously dealt with or that you know to be legitimate. At a minimum, find out if there is a customer service number that you can contact if there is a problem with the product. Protect your privacy. Do not provide any more personal information than is necessary. Never give out your Social Security number or driver's license number. In addition, be leery if someone asks you to reveal your passwords or any information used to install your online service. Find out in advance what the shipping and handling fees will be for items ordered. Don't assume the seller will choose the least expensive option for you. Check the promised delivery date. By federal law, companies must ship items by the date they promise, or, if no delivery date is stated, within thirty (30) days after the order date. If the seller cannot ship the item within that time, the seller must notify you, give you a chance to cancel the order, and send a full refund if you choose to cancel. Ask ahead of time what the company's refund policy is. Ask to be provided with a copy of this policy. Pay with a credit card. If a product does not arrive or if you believe it was misrepresented, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company. In addition, federal law protects you if someone uses your credit card, not your debit card, in an unauthorized fashion. Do not, under any circumstances, provide your checking account number. Keep a record of your purchase. Write down all information related to the transaction. If ordering online, print out a copy of your order form or any confirmation you receive. If you are considering bidding on an Internet auction item, check out the seller. Contact your Better Business Bureau to see if the company has any unresolved complaints against it. In Colorado, you can call the Colorado Consumer Line toll-free at 1-800-222-4444, or in the metro area at 303-866-5189 to get this information from the Better Business Bureau. The Colorado Consumer Protection Act applies to representations made over the Internet to the same extent that it applies to representations in any other medium. Therefore, if you believe you have been a victim of Internet fraud, contact the Colorado Attorney General's office toll-free in Colorado at 1-800-222-4444, or in the metro area at 303-866-5189, and Internet Fraud Complaint Center at www.ifccfbi.gov. The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). It provides a mechanism for victims of Internet fraud to report online fraud to the appropriate law enforcement and regulatory authorities.
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