See How Easily You Can Avoid Online Scams

The net has come a long way since the dotcom crash. Now, things are looking up, what with web 2.0 and whatnot. Heck, things are better than they’ve ever been, going by the amount of money flowing in and giant , almost weekly, acquisitions. With all this money, naturally, internet crime is also doing pretty good. Millions of people are scammed every year. The sad fact, though, is that avoiding getting scammed is, mostly, pretty easy. Don’t be just another statistic!

  1. Try to deal locally as much as possible. Get people’s names, make calls, and meet them in person. This is the best and surest way of avoiding online scams.
  2. Never pay for an opportunity to work for someone. Would you ever do that in real life? Basically, avoid anything that smells like BS and be smart.
  3. Do not give out your financial information and thoroughly check out an organization before you pay for anything.
  4. Always pay for everything online using your credit/debit card – at least then you can trace it and take it up with your bank if anything goes wrong. Avoid escrow agreements (unless from trusted organisations), money orders, certified checks, shipments, etc.
  5. Turn on your BS sensors (these should be in-built, ideally). Do not fall for make-money-fast, unlimited wealth and easy work schemes. Something like, ‘Make $1000 for doing nothing’ should just scream out ‘BS! BS!’ Are these kind of deals really even possible anywhere? When sniffing out BS, be aware of vagueness (why don’t they give you their address or other contact details?) or incredible offers. Additionally, do some research to find out if the type of work you will be doing has a ready market. Is that market as fantastic as the would-be scammers say it is?
  6. Do not come across as desperate, scammers will be able to smell you a mile away. Be professional, confident and self-assured. Know what you are doing.
  7. Patience pays: It takes time to find a good thing. For example, if you’re looking to make money online remember that there are a lot of people in your situation, who are your direct competitors therefore making huge amounts of money will be quite difficult and will take lots of time. Also, scammers usually pressurize you into making hasty decisions so be aware of time-limited offers.
  8. NEVER ever reply to spam. Who told them that you’re interested? When did you apply for that contest you just won? How did the ‘deposed’ Nigerian Foreign Minister get your email address? How did that person who ‘needs’ your help know of you and why doesn’t he/she approach someone, anyone in real life instead of you, via email? Spammers are just scammers taking shots in the dark – don’t be their bull’s-eye.

Awesome Resources:
Scam Busters – very detailed information on identifying and busting scams.
Craigslist’s How to Avoid Scams – with examples (case studies) of real-life scams.
Top 5 Internet Scams.

Some ‘jargon‘: BS = BullShit

What everybody ought to know about Online Sex Offences

The thought that the internet opens up a vast new avenue for sex offenders to reach out for kids scars me stiff. Ever since I started this blog, I’ve wanted to write on ways to protect ourselves and our kids from such criminals. But I’m no expert at this and the actual writing of the post was rather difficult. However, I recently found a way of overcoming this. Yesterday I told you about using Yahoo! Answers to research for your posts and just to expound further on how this can be done, and also to show how useful it can be, I went ahead and prepared the rest of this post using Yahoo! Answers. (Yeah, now your research doesn’t have to be limited to 2 hours at the library and 4 more googling) 😉

What exactly is an online sex offense?
Amber puts it this way, “I would think an online sex offense is when an adult goes online and finds minors to try to coerce them to meet and commit sexual acts on/with them or even inappropriate sexually charged conversations with a minor on an IM or through email. ” Personally, I think that an online sex offense’s victim isn’t just limited to a minor. Such an offense can be committed against anyone. Therefore, unwanted and undesired sexual advances of any kind are a sex offense, online or not. Obviously, some of these offenses are more ‘serious’ than others. Particularly, I think sex offenses committed against minors are horrible and are the most serious of these offenses.

How Can we Protect Ourselves?
I don’t get much help from my research on Yahoo Answers on this one. That illustrates a basic problem with Yahoo Answers: your questions won’t always be answered as well as you want them to. Keep in mind that the guys answering your questions aren’t necessarily experts; they are more likely normal everyday people like you and I.
So, how do you go about protecting your kids?

  1. It is important to have open communication with your kids and educate them on safe online behave and on online safety procedures like these ones. Your kids don’t need you to be their friend, they need you as a parent. Clearly outline the possible dangers in everything they do online and make sure they know what’s safe to do and what’s not.
  2. If they are not co-operative then you need to do whatever you can to find out how they spend their time online and who they associate it while online. If you have to, spy on them using the excellent spyware programs available. Here’s an excellent tool for doing just that.
  3. No internet profiles. Not on myspace, not anywhere else. This may sound extreme but i is the safest possible approach. Think about it. If you(or your kids) don’t put yourself out there, then no one can find you. Not even a hardened sex criminal. (At least not easily)
  4. There shall be no computer in your child’s room. The computer should not be your child’s ‘go to’ place when he/she is feeling lonely or sad. Nor should it be a secret personal playground. The computer should be placed in an open area, like the dining area or living room, where people pas by regularly. This way, your child will think twice about getting intimate with anyone or about breaking your rules on net safety (see #1 above).
  5. If you suspect anything, anything at all, is amiss then notify the authorities A.S.A.P. Better be safe than sorry. None of us wants to see another horrendous crime (think murder, rape etc) on CNN that started out ‘innocently’ on the net.

For more on safe internet practices go here.

This post was prepared with assistance from a question asked on Yahoo! Answers.