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Online Fraud Alerts

written by: Donna Buenaventura•edited by: Aaron R.•updated: 7/25/2010

Online Fraud Alerts help protect consumers and business from becoming victims of Internet fraud. Fraudsters are always ready to send fake messages by e-mail or phone but if you are aware that help is available, then you can easily avoid the loss and annoyance of these scams.

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    Methods Used by Fraudsters

    Fake E-mail 

    Fraudsters use fake messages or websites to annoy and victimize people or businesses. An online or offline fraud is not only annoying but it can put your computer, personal and financial information at risk. Fraudsters are using different techniques to get your social security number, full name, credit card information, any online account name, password or any other personal information. Some even use advanced profiling or online research if they want to target a particular mark. Fortunately, there are online fraud alerts that we can use to report scammers and learn new scams.

    Fraudsters also use several methods for getting someone to fall into their trap. The most widely used method is by sending fake messages in e-mail, social networking services such as Twitter or Facebook, instant messenger applications or in a private message in discussion forums. Other fraudsters will set-up a fake website which is known as a phishing website. The fake website is often created to look exactly the same as the legitimate institution's website.

    The image at the left is an example of an e-mail message I received from a fraudster using an Amazon.com logo with a fake message. All Fake Mobile Message hyperlinked items in the message are obviously not from Amazon.com but a fake webpage that was set-up by the fraudster.

    Other method used by fraudsters include sending a fake short text message to your mobile phone. The image at the right is an example of what I received a few weeks ago. You will notice that the message is not in English and was sent by a mobile number in Indonesia. The message from the fraudster says, I've won RM$10,000 from Power Root and was asked to call a number in Indonesia, to claim the price.

    Fraudster do not only use fake short messaging, e-mail or phishing websites to victimize people. Some of them will make phone calls or send letters.

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    What to Do if You Become a Victim of Fraud?

    Caution is recommended with any message or website that you see, because criminals are using the internet and networking devices to get new victims. If you become a victim, there is always help. The websites in the list below all offer online fraud alerts, services to report fraud and general information about Internet fraud:

    • Internet Fraud Alert - The National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance and Microsoft have joined forces to help protect consumers from online fraud. This fraud alert service is supported by eBay, PayPal, McAfee, Accuity, Anti-Phishing Working Group, American Bankers Association and Citizens Bank. They will investigate any reports of fraud activity and provide help to consumers by alerting the affected organization for any lost data or information caused by fraudsters.
    • Federal Trade Commission - FTC is a consumer protection agency that let you file a complaint against companies or businesses that are using deceptive practices. Any fraud or misleading work by any entity should be reported to the FTC to punish them and stop more people from becoming victims.
    • OnGuard Online - This service provides practical tips to prevent internet fraud. You may use their service to file a complaint involving identity theft, e-mail scams, social networking abuse or fraud, phishing, childrens' privacy, cross-border scams, internet auctions, online shopping, spyware, malware, online investing and health online.
    • Better Business Bureau - BBB is an organization that you can visit to file a complaint against businesses or services that mislead or provided unethical services to consumers.
    • Looks Too Good To Be True.com - This website not only offers online fraud alert service but also attends to complaints filed by consumers.
    • Anti-Phishing Working Group - APWG is one of the more popular internet fraud alert websites that lets you report phishing messages and websites.
    • econsumer.gov - If you become a victim of fraud by a business or entity from a foreign country, you can visit this website to file a complaint.
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    Avoiding Fraudsters

    Security software vendors are working hard to protect us from online fraud. Always enable the fraud protection in a browser and use a security protection program that will check a message or website for malicious content or fraud. You also need to be cautious before clicking a link in any message or website. Use a search engine service properly by configuring the settings to use safe search. If you are a business user, you might want to send your employees for free or paid fraud courses.