Tips For Avoiding Internet Fraud

The National Consumers League offers these tips for doing business with companies over the Internet. Don’t be a victim of fraud. Be sure to:

  • Do business with those you know and trust. Be sure you know who the company or person is and where it is physically located.
  • Understand the offer. Look carefully at the information about the products or services offered, and ask for more information, if needed. A legitimate business will be glad to provide it; a fraudulent telemarketer won’t.
  • Be sure you know what is being sold, the total price, the delivery date, the return and cancellation policy, and the terms of any guarantee. The federal telephone and mail order rule, which also covers orders by computer, requires goods or services to be delivered by the promised time or, if none was stated, within 30 days.
  • Print out the information so that you have documentation.
  • Check out the company’s or individual’s track record. Ask your state or local consumer protection agency if the business has to be licensed or registered, and check to see if it is. Call to check for complaint records with consumer agencies and the Better Business Bureau in your area. But keep in mind that fraud artists can appear and disappear quickly, especially in cyberspace; lack of a complaint record is no guarantee of legitimacy.
  • Never give your bank account numbers, credit card numbers or other personal information to anyone you don’t know or haven’t checked out. And don’t provide information that isn’t necessary to make a purchase.