By Steven Roseleaf, for GalTime.com
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With more and more business being conducted online, fraud is on the rise. We're vulnerable to theft in a multitude of ways, from the threat of online scams to the electronic trail we leave behind.
Let's take a look at four ways to avoid getting scammed and how to make sure you haven't already fallen victim.
1. Only do business with reputable vendors
Conducting business with reputable vendors is easier said than done, especially with the number of small businesses and individuals selling products and services online. Check user-generated reviews, consumer ratings, and consumer review sites (for larger businesses) before buying.
Google the name of the person or business and the item they're selling to verify that others haven't been taken advantage of. If the business is unfamiliar to you, ask friends on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking sites to share any personal experience they may have with the business. Collect as much consumer information as possible from the business or person you're considering buying from.
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2. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is
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Does that deal sound a bit too good to be true? Trust your intuition, it's correct more often than you probably realize. Sadly, it's often only in retrospect that we recognize the string of warning signs that we somehow missed.
Try and approach each financial transaction - especially those online - with a healthy dose of skepticism. If the deal sounds too good to be true, or something seems “off” about the website, double-check the website address. Some scammers have created websites with a slightly altered IP address to look nearly identical to more reputable websites.
If the wording in the marketing description seems odd, or you have a strange feeling about the website or purchase, walk away from the transaction and get more information.
3. Be suspicious of phone calls or emails from your bank or credit card provider asking for account information
One classic scam involves a phone call or email from your bank or credit card provider informing you that there has been a problem with your account. The caller will ask you to provide your account number or account details in order to confirm they’ve contacted the correct card or account holder.