Internet Scams - the warning signs

You'll likely see more and more Internet scams simply because it's a popular way of doing business. My approach to frugal living is such that I'm on the lookout for scams, and you should be too.

One of the things that makes us vulnerable on the Internet is simply that most of what goes on there is very impersonal and very much anonymous. Those aren't good characteristics of a business deal.

I saw an article about vehicle sales over the Internet where people lost thousands of dollars as they put money down on vehicles they wanted to buy. When you read some of the details, you wonder what these people were thinking.

In the interest of helping you hold onto your money, let's look at some of the warning signs of Internet scams, and just about any other scam for that matter. They're not all the same, but they have similarities. Here they are:

  • The offer is too good to be true. You have to ask yourself how the organization is making money if what they're selling is way below market rate. If it's just too good to be true, then there is probably a catch somewhere. You either don't get what you're paying for, or you don't get anything at all. Either way it's a scam and "the hurts on you."

  • They ask for money up front. For a few transactions this is normal, but rarely is it required simply because you can reserve something by paying a deposit with a credit card. Ask yourself why they're asking for money up front. Is it to preserve your "place in line?" If so, you're probably better off taking your chances of loosing the opportunity to buy something than loosing your money and having nothing to show for it.

  • Internet scams can be anonymous to the point where you never talk to an individual. That's a drawback for you since a conversation with someone will help you determine if they're evasive with answers, or otherwise give you the creeps. You know, that sleazy and slimy characteristic that doesn't easily wash off with soap and water.

  • Direct questions aren't clearly or directly answered. Let's say you ask about getting your money back, and they assure you that they'll do everything they can to resolve the matter to your satisfaction. That's an evasive answer, one that doesn't address the question of you getting your money back. If you ask a question three different ways and/or three times and don't get a straight answer, you can bet $1,000 that the individual is telling you a lie.

  • The method of transaction places your money at undue risk. Instead of paying with a credit card or through PayPal, you're asked to wire the money to an account. Well, what recourse would you have then? You can't refuse the charge because it's not on your credit card. You can't make a stop payment on the check because you didn't write one. If you try to reverse the charges, what's the chance that the account will still be open?

  • There are artificial restrictions and time limits. This isn't something that's unique to Internet scams, but it's a commonplace gimmick that in my mind smells a lot like a steaming pile of horseshit. Some of the artificial restrictions could involve payment methods and doing business "sight unseen." The old standby of course is telling you to "act now," or "supplies are limited," or some other crap like "we can't advertise this publicly." That's the time to go about your business elsewhere.

Protect yourself from Internet scams by using common sense, being skeptical, asking questions, and demanding safe avenues for financial transactions. One of the ways you can avoid being taken is to simply slow down and think things through very carefully. Use reason over emotion in every important decision you make. Just remember, whatever it is they want you to buy was just fine without you a moment ago, and it'll be just fine without you later on.

When in doubt, walk away. Loosing your money to Internet scams is worse than spending too much for something. If you make a bad purchase, at least you have something to show for it. If you're scammed, you're out the money and you have nothing to show for it.

Done with Internet Scams, back to Avoid the Scams

There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.

I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.

If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.