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Beware Online Scams

Scam Unfortunately, the Internet has greatly facilitated scammers in their preying on the unwary.  If you receive an email from the princess of Yemen saying her child has been abducted and she needs you to wire her $57,000 to help her find her son and rescue dolphins, you’ll probably pause before running to the local Western Union. 

But not all scams raise obvious red flags and may truly seem attractive at first blush. 

For example, in light of the current economic environment, many folks have been lured in by various work-at-home (i.e., “get-rich-quick”), “mortgage relief,” and advance-fee loan scams.  The Better Business Bureau’s list of Top 10 Scams and Rip-Offs of 2010 includes a number of Internet scams.  The New York Times has also recently warned readers to watch out for various online scams.

A few tips to keep in mind when reading through your inbox:

  • Be particularly careful of schemes asking you to pay something up front. 
  • Remember you may always check out businesses and websites at the Better Business Bureau.  You might also just run some general Internet searches to do a little investigating of your own before you conduct business with an online business.
  • For information about consumer protection and how to file a consumer fraud complaint, visit the Iowa Attorney General's web site.
  • You may find additional consumer protection information at the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
  • Think twice before doling out personal information online.  Is the web site reputable?  Is it secure?  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse offers information and resources for dealing with a security breach.

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