This is part two of a two-part series dedicated to protecting your information and/or money from deceitful individuals, online fraud and email scams.
Have you ever felt that something is too good to be true? Chances are it probably is! Many people use the Internet to take advantage of others that are not familiar with the danger of giving out personal information online (ex. Credit card, social security number, bank numbers, etc.). The Internet can be as safe as walking your grandma to the Magic Kingdom at Disneyland, if you take the right steps. Here is a list of thing you can do to prevent consumer fraud:
Register with DMAchoice. It is an online tool developed by the Direct Marketing Association to help you manage your mail. This site divides direct mail into four categories including; credit offers, catalogs, magazine offers and other mail offers. Once registered at the site, you can request to start or stop receiving mail from individual companies within each category—or from an entire category. You must re-register after three years. DMAchoice will also help get your email off spammer lists.
Check your credit report at least once a year by going to annualcreditreport.com. Do not register at freecreditreport.com (remember the commercials with the guitar guy) as they will charge you a monthly rate unless you proactively cancel your membership within the 7-day trial period. Annualcreditreport.com is the official Web site sponsored by the three credit reporting agencies; Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Checking your credit report often will ensure you catch fraudulent activity and prevent someone from using your credit for their own purposes.
As our last blog post mentioned you can visit Ic3.gov and report Internet abuse. This is a good place to report spammers and other fraudulent activity on the Internet. They also have annual reports that include a number of great fraud-prevention tips, including; Internet auction fraud, investment fraud, identity theft, credit card fraud, business fraud, non-delivery merchandise, and cyberstalking.
You can opt out of pre-approved credit cards by calling 1-888-567-8688 or go to OptOutPreScreen.com, which is the official consumer credit reporting industry opt-out Web site. The company asks for your social security number but you do not have to give it to them. There are other ways for them to process the request without your social security number. For more information visit: https://www.optoutprescreen.com/opt_form.cgi
Opt out of telemarketing (reduces risk of telemarketing fraud): Call 1-888-382-1222 or go to www.donotcall.gov. Your registration is permanent.
Before investing in a company or donating to a charity make sure you visit the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org. Remember, you shouldn’t assume any company is honest just because you can’t find a complaint against them with the Better Business Bureau. Scammers will often change the name of the company in order to avoid detection. If the company does not have a history or is included in the Better Business Bureau database as having problems this should send a definite red flag. You can also report fraudulent activity to this agency.
From my experience with domain registrations and in the Web hosting world there are companies you have never heard of claiming “YOU NEED TO RENEW YOUR DOMAIN IMMEDIATELY OR YOU WILL LOSE IT!” Although you do need to renew your domain periodically most of these claims come from companies who try to pull your domain registration away from your current registrar. If you ever have a question about your domain and when it expires you can check at any WHOIS to see when your domain is going to expire. The WHOIS will also tell you who provides your domain registration and how you can contact them if you have any further questions.
Consumer fraud is avoidable, we just need to take the time to prevent it from happening to us. It is unfortunate when good people get taken advantage of. These types of things can be avoided by following the simple guidelines listed above. Remember the Internet doesn’t have to be a scary place, it can actually be a safe place to do business.