Internet Scams – How To Avoid Getting Stung

You know the story. You have been spending some quiet time browsing around online, only to stumble across a deal which looks absolutely superb. Backed up by outstanding testimonials, supported by money-back guarantees and usually offering something amazing (lose eight stone in two days, make a million overnight? No problem!) you suddenly find yourself wrapped in the world of the latest internet marketing scam.

It’s a sad state of affairs, but also a very true one, that you can’t go very far online without coming across a sophisticated scam which is designed to make lots of money for the clever criminals behind it, all the while giving you nothing in return. Written in sophisticated and compelling language, and presented on professional sites, it can be hard sometimes for even the most seasoned surfer to recognize that they are about to be snared up in a simple scam.

In the early days of the internet, our scam experiences tended to come in the form of flashing banners announcing that we had won a prize, or that we had been selected as the hundredth visitor to a site and were now entitled to lots of money and free stuff. Which of us didn’t succumb at least once to a furtive click on these sites? As time went on, we grew more savvy, but so did our scammers. Nowadays, it can be near-impossible to work out what is fake and what is real online.

The main message for avoiding scams is to remember the useful adage – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

You won’t win anything when you haven’t entered a competition. Unfortunately, no-one truly gives something or free online from the goodness of their heart. The following statements are great ways of identifying scams online, just by checking out the language used and the way they are presented…

Key phrases to watch out for

  • Limited Time Offer / One-Time Opportunity
  • Risk Free Trial / Money back Guarantee
  • Secret / Revealed / Classified
  • Expert / Guru / Mastermind
  • Instant / Overnight

Do you recognize the type of scams I’m referring to, from this list of words? These are the adverts which entice you to take up an offer immediately, as time is ticking. They want you to part with your cash, offering you guarantees which don’t apply once you wade through the small print.

They offer you trade secrets which will support you to become a millionaire overnight, or give you access to alleged secrets of the trade which the industry don’t want to be shared.

Let’s look at it objectively. If you have a secret which made you in to a billionaire, would you spend time writing it down and selling it online, or would you be busy in a desert island somewhere, enjoying some R&R and swigging cocktails?

Tough choice, I know. The fact is, the people who really know how to make money tend to keep quiet about it, or host American Idol. Normal bloggers like you and I are not likely to be able to part with a few dollars and suddenly find ourselves catapulted in to commercial success.

How to avoid being scammed

Use the following tips to make sure you don’t fall prey to online scammers…

  • Read the small print. ALL of it. Do you remember a company a few years ago, who got all of its subscribers to sign away their souls in return for getting a new service? Stories like this highlight the fact that we simply don’t read the small print – and we should!
  • Never, ever give your credit card details as a ‘guarantee’ when you sign up for a free offer or promotion
  • Check the credentials and independent references for any site which you are considering subscribing to.
  • Don’t divulge personal details unless you are completely certain that you are giving them to the right person.

A lot of legitimate sites use some of the same tactics so it always pays to be on the side of caution.

9 thoughts on “Internet Scams – How To Avoid Getting Stung”

  1. A’men brotha!

    If it seems too good to be true, it must be.

    Another one that I use is “if that worked to well, why would the person selling it want to sell it and or just not do it himself all day long..”

    Thaty one will protect you as well..

  2. Hi Joel,

    The Federal Trade Commission’s of the U.S. Red Flags Rule comes into force on 31/12/2010 which is aimed and helping prevent identity theft . If you were to think of a method of reducing fraud on the internet which way would you choose – government regulation or consumer group accreditation e.g. AARP .


    Jack Taggerty

    1. Tough choice Jack! Can I sit on the fence and say a mixture? Consumer groups are often a little toothless and the variety of them can cause confusion and end up with different adopted standards. Which would you choose?

    2. Hi Joel,

      You are right. Having standards that are not regulated has shown itself not to work i.e. the GFC. The questions of how to regulate has started to be answered with the FTC regulation of testimonials. However, I can’t help but feel that the purchasing powers of consumer groups has a role to play. I believe that the role of unions have a limited involvement in internet services to date, but could expand into this area with accreditation and services.
      It is going to be interesting to watch developments in this area.


      Jack Taggerty

  3. Joel, How can we forget about those mails which says “you have got million dollar of money” some of your unknown (invisible) family member has left so much of money for you and it’s now with some bank and all…

    I used to get this kind of mails on my yahoo mail box and finally had to move out of yahoo for this…

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