In today's tumultuous economy, everyone is looking to make extra money--honest people looking to supplement their income and bad people looking for an easy way to scam innocent folks. The Dr. Phil Show today presented an episode title "How Not to Get Scammed". Fortunately I was aware of most of these scams but still learned a thing or two.
Here is a list of RED FLAGS I put together as a helpful reference for anyone who's looking for a "work at home job" through the internet, or selling items on Internet. Beware also of the security pitfalls of Facebook where hackers can steal your identity. How? Check out the link to Dr. Phil, where one man's Facebook was hijacked and hacker pretended to be the user and asked his friends to send money because his family lost everything on a vacation in London after being robbed at gunpoint. The real user of the Facebook could not access his site since the hacker had blocked him. One friend did wire over $1,100 unknowingly. Sadly, he will never get that money back. Obviously Facebook still needs to improve their security measures.
1- When looking for a "work at home" job via the Internet, get the official name of the company and ask for a headquarter address and phone number. Then be sure to look them up in the Better Business Bureau to ensure the company exists and the type of rating for doing business.
2- NEVER deposit a check of any kind (cashier's check or wired money) from a job or from selling items on Craig's List into your bank account without verifying that the "bank" on the check is a real bank. If you deposit the check, your bank will post the money to the account. If you start to draw money from your account and it turns out the check was not real, you lose that amount that was credited to your account. You are ultimately responsible for paying that money back to the bank if you withdrew it.
3- BEWARE of any job posting over the Internet or newspaper listing that asks you to send money via Western Union. Again, do some homework and be sure the company really exists. Also, another red flag is when a company asks to do an interview over Instant Message or email. Insist on telephone interview and ask for their company address and telephone number.
If you have other tips or lessons learned--please share them by posting a comment below! Scammers and computer hackers are increasingly clever and finding new ways to steal our money and identity. Protect Yourself by educating yourself and if something sounds too good to be true--it usually is!