Internet crime schemes target victims using various methods.
- Internet auction fraud - This scheme involves the misrepresentation of a product advertised for sale on an Internet auction site or non-delivery of merchandise.
- Credit card fraud - Through the unauthorized use of a credit/debit card, or card number, scammers fraudulently obtain money or property.
- Investment fraud - This is an offer using false claims to solicit investments or loans, or providing for the purchase, use, or trade of forged or counterfeit securities.
- Nigerian letter or "419" fraud - Named for the violation of Section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, it combines the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter, e-mail, or fax is received by the victim.
Tips for Avoiding Internet Fraud
- Preventative measures will assist you in being informed prior to entering into transactions over the Internet.
- Understand as much as possible about how the auction works, what your obligations are as a buyer, and what the seller’s obligations are before you bid.
- Find out what actions the website/company takes if a problem occurs and consider insuring the transaction and shipment.
- Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address. If it is a business, check the Better Business Bureau where the seller/business is located.
- Examine the feedback on the seller.
- Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and where he/she is asking to send payment.
- If possible, purchase items online using your credit card, because you can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
- Be cautious when dealing with sellers outside the United States. If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more difficult to rectify.
- Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and whether the merchandise is covered by a warranty or can be exchanged if there is a problem.
- Make sure there are no unexpected costs, including whether shipping and handling is included in the auction price.
- There should be no reason to give out your social security number or driver’s license number to the seller.