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City of Belleville
101 S. Illinois St.
Belleville, IL 62220
Ph: 618-233-6810

Tips to Avoid Scam Artists
10 Ways to Protect Yourself

Following are 10 effective ways to protect yourself from being cheated in such scams and frauds:

1)      Never send money to unknown internet friends – Many times we send money through internet to friends who are in need of money. But we should never send money to an unknown friend online without first verifying their condition over phone or in-person.

Many times people create fake accounts and ask others to send money to their accounts with falsifying economic states. Even emails accounts get hacked very often.

2)      Never give you personal information – Never give your personal information to any unknown internet friend as they may harass you and ask you to give them some money threatening you about giving your information to anyone else. Beware of cute girls/boys in internet chat rooms. Do not disclose your identity before talking to them over phone.

If your social network profile has contact address or phone number, etc. Do remove them or classify them as private information.

3)      Attachments in email – Never download attachments email without scanning for viruses. Viruses and phishing software can easily be attached to mails. If you download blindly, you compromise with the security. Attachments in an unsolicited mails should always be opened with caution.

4)      Never believe in stories – There are many people who ask you to send money to their account in the name of giving you free products or lottery tickets or any such things. Never believe in such stories, almost always they are scams. The best way of finding out whether a story is true is that the story is easily believable.

You can’t win lotteries over internet, and you can’t inherit property from some one you don’t know in a distant country. Even if you faithfully believe in a story, if you are required to send an upfront personal information or money to the senders to receive greater benefits, then its sure a scam in the making, Step a side, back-out and report.

5)      Never click unknowingly - Most of the phishing emails would have you click on a link to log in to your one of the accounts (sometimes in accounts you aren’t aware of) . Don’t just look at what’s visible on your screen. Mouse over the links and see what the real URLs are.

6)      Change your password from time to time – If you don’t change your password from time to time your account may get hacked and the hacker may steal your personal information. Another thing is that, that the hacker may misuse your account to send emails to other account and threaten other people using your name.

7)      Lack of personal details – The easiest way to find a fake email is the sender will send you email in the name of some bank, organization, etc. and will never mention your name in the email. This is because the sender does not have your personal information as he chooses your email randomly or from a list of emails and so he cannot mention your name.

8)      Internet shopping - Never buy a things out of email offers you receive. Not talking about email subscription you knowingly enrolled in. My wife has weekly email alerts from Macy’s and JC Penny’s etc. Make unsolicited selling pitch a warning sign. To be on safe side make it  a point not to buy from those emails, not even that attractive looking earrings!

9)      Never login to your financial account from unknown network - When you login to your email or social networking account from a public WiFi,do check browser’s lock icon to make sure you are logged on to genuine account, do this before entering user id/password.

There are simple software that can record keystrokes when activated. When using public computer, especially at your doctor’s office, hotel or airports, Do not log on to financial accounts. These software store username and password on hidden text files for the owner to download.

10)   Take help from experts – You should take help or seek advice from experts about internet scams and frauds and ways to prevent them. You may ask them which websites are secure, weather the person who in contact is a fake person, which emails are fake, which information should not be given including your personal information, etc.

What if you are already a victim and now want to find way out of the mess? Know your rights, and take action accordingly. Internet scams generally involve fraud by foreign nationals. Your options are limited in this case. so, prevention is the best cure for online scams. Still there are some ways to fight on when you’re scammed already.

  1. File police complaint if you have monetary loss
  2. Contact your financial institution immediately, consult with them if you should close the current account and re open another.
  3. File claim with Federal trade Commission (FTC) and seek help from their identity theft division.
  4. Contact fraud departments of three major credit bureaus, ExperianEquifax and Transunion.
  5. Initiate process for getting new ID documents, like Driver’s License, passport or state ID, etc.

One last bit of advice, if you want to protect your friends/family from being scammed, do inform every one if your email account is compromised and taken over by scammers. Help others avoid scams too.