Online scams have existed as long as the internet has, and many of us have heard of emails promising great riches from a small investment or long-distance lovers asking money for a plane ticket.
The schemes are not always this elaborate – online marketplace scams are increasing as more people are trading goods online.
Even if you would not lose a large sum of money, getting scammed can be a traumatizing experience. Many smaller scams don’t get reported due to the scammed persons feeling like they would be laughed at if they came forward as victims. However, the truth is that anyone can get scammed online if they don’t check for the basic signs of alarm.
Email sender address and link preview
Unlike with phone calls, you cannot hide the email sender information. If the mail has come from a website’s representative, the email should contain the domain of the website in question, like @amazon.com. If you suspect the legitimacy of the email, check the domain, and make sure it either matches the website, or what the website has stated as their customer support or other contact address exactly.
In case the email includes a link you are asked to click, you can preview it with by hovering your mouse over the link. At the bottom of the screen, you should then see a box showing the link’s address. Suspicious links should never be clicked, and there are websites you can verify the link with.
Website footer information and links
Every legitimate website has a footer section, which is a box of information at the bottom of each and every page of that website. This box states or contains direct links to the site’s most important information.
Word of mouth and online reviews
If you have checked everything, but are still unsure if a website, company or a person is legitimate, you can always use a search engine to see what comes up about it. Adding the word “experiences” or “review” should help you to find out what other people have said about the searched matter.
Even a piece of text from an email might lead to a scam report, and reverse image search is widely used to verify online dating profiles. People are more comfortable with sharing their experiences anonymously, and many sites gather and share for example new online casino or web store reviews.
Scams are regularly revealed, and some scammers get caught, but it is safe to say that online scams are not going anywhere. It is always good to be careful when dealing with money on the internet and make sure all transactions are done via verified service providers.