Any type of fraud scheme that uses one or more compontents of the internet (chat rooms, email, message boards, web sites, etc.) to present fraudulent solicitations to prospective victims, to conduct fraudulent transactions, or to transmit the proceeds of fraud to financial institutions or to others connected with the scheme is internet fraud.
Major types of internet fraud include:
- Online Auctions.
- "Work at Home" business opportunity schemes.
- Identity theft and fraud.
- Investment schemes.
- Credit card offers.
- Credit repair.
- Vacation prize promotions.
- Nigerian (or other country) money offers. - This scheme involves someone claiming to be an official who promises big profits in exchange for help moving large sums of money out of their country.
- Advance fee loans.
- Internet access services.
- Health and diet scams.
- Free goods (long distance phone cards, computers, etc).
- Cable descrambler kits.
Precautions to take to secure your personal and credit information include:
- Keep all personal information private.
- Use a secure browser.
- Use filtering software to filter programs to protect your family from inappropriate sites.
- Pay your bills online with a credit card instead of a debit card/personal check.
- Review your telephone bill and other bills. Challenge any charges that you do not recognize.
- Precautions to take when shopping online include:
- Keep your password(s) private.
- Check out the seller, especially when shopping online auction sites.
- Shop with reputable companies.
- Get all the details involved before making an internet transaction (complete description, total cost, return policy, etc.).
- Ask your credit card issuer about "single-use" or "substitute" credit card numbers. These allow you to use your credit card without putting your real account number online.
- Pay by credit cards online. You have a legal right to dispute charges for goods and services that were never ordered or received.
- Keep a record for proof of the transaction.
Precautions to take when conducting online business include:
- Avoid offers that sound too good to be true.
- Watch out for "advance fee" demands.
- Research investment opportunities thoroughly. Consult an adviser/lawyer.
- Get earning claims in writing when considering internet-related business opportunities.
- Interview business references in person at the place of business.
- Get references on any travel companies and get details about the trip in writing, including the cancellation policy.