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Don’t get fooled by these common online scams

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Avoid the top scams

Does that deal seem too good to be true? Chances are, your instincts are right. Any time you’re dealing with online transactions, be wary of these common scams. Your money and safety could be at risk if you don’t pay attention to the warning signs of scammers.
Confused woman on computer

As the popular television show Catfish has taught us, you can’t trust everything you encounter online. When it comes to business transactions, this is especially true. Seasoned scammers prey on buyers and sellers, job seekers and renters every day. Learn how to avoid getting fooled by these common scams.

The fake buyer

You’ve taken great pictures, put together a killer listing and you’re ready to sell your goods online. Whether you’re selling a wedding dress or a toddler bed, you may be a target for scammers. Be aware that scammers will contact you via text or email, but rarely by phone. Most don’t want you to hear an accent that might give them away as not being local. What are these scammers after? Your money. They’re hoping to entangle you in a complicated money order scam that involves fake couriers and returned money. Your best bet is to always let people know up front that you deal with locals and cash only.

The fake property

As you shop for an amazing rental home, you may be tempted to visit local listings by owner. This is generally a safe practice, unless you run into a fake property owner. These scammers list properties they don’t really own and ask for applications, including a deposit. Some have gone as far as collecting first and last month’s rent on properties they don’t own. Be on the lookout for unusually low prices on properties that appear to be very nice. Only deal with local owners and agents. If the price is ludicrous, you’re dealing with scammers. Always visit a property in person to ensure that you’re dealing with the real owners or an agent.

The fake tickets

When buying tickets from another individual, it’s possible to get great deals. It’s also possible to get completely ripped off. Fake ticket scams are common, especially through online transactions. Whenever possible, pick up tickets in person. Be familiar with what the tickets should look like. It’s very easy to doctor printed tickets. If you want to be on the safe side, opt for using a ticket transaction service that guarantees the tickets. You’ll pay more, but you’ll also avoid losing hundreds of dollars on a ticket scam.

The fake job

Who doesn’t want an awesome opportunity to work from home? Relying on that near-universal desire, scammers actively target job seekers with fake opportunities. If a job sounds incredible, use your detective skills to find out if it’s legit. You should be able to speak on the phone to a real person, you should not be required to pay for anything at all and no one should need your bank information. Make sure the people you communicate with have legitimate email addresses connected to the company’s URL. Don’t trust any job promising great money with minimal effort. Real jobs expect employees to work hard and have qualifications.

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