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Too good to be true: how to detect a fraud sale

You've always wanted a Louis Vuitton tote bag – a real, not a fake, bought on the street. However, at $ 1,400, it is outside your price range.

And then you see an amazing sale online. The bag of your dreams and 75 percent off. At $ 350, that's a bargain, but you have to act fast. Should you try it or is it a scam?

At this price, it's probably a scam. But it can be hard to tell because scammers are very good at making a wrong offer look like it's real. Designer items are a popular destination, but also cars, event tickets, health products, pets, electronics and many other items.

Many real bargains are available online. To separate the good from the fake, remain skeptical and know what to look for. Here are seven questions you should ask yourself:

1. Is it the smell test?

Remember the old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true, is it likely?" Take a close look at the ad. Does it make sense? Does it contain a fair amount of detail about the article or is the text vague and generic? If you buy a used item, is there a photo? Are the pictures sharp or dark and grainy? Does the website look sloppy? Are grammar and spelling reasonably good?

Some people and companies can present their goods better than others. However, if the price seems too low or you feel bad on the website or on the ad, you should investigate further.

. 2 Is the URL real?

Scammers can create websites and emails that look real. Take a close look at the URL.

  • Does it begin with "https: //"? This means the site is secure and all information you enter is encrypted – an important consideration when sending a payment or sharing personal information.
  • Is the company name part of the URL? The company name should not only be encrypted but also included in the URL and should not contain any additional words or characters. For example, "company.com" looks legitimate, but "company-sale-you-don & # 39; t-believe.com" does not look legitimate.
  • If you've heard of a store, its name is spelled correctly
  • If the site is a brand website, open a new browser window and go to the company's Web site. Do the two sites look the same? Does the company website have the same offer?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, assume that the offer is a scam and continue.

. 3 Can you contact the company?

Legitimate e-commerce companies include postal addresses, telephone numbers and contact information on their websites. They also formulate return and privacy policies. If these elements are missing, you are probably dealing with a fraudulent website. If a phone number is listed, call it to confirm that the company is real. If you call them, ask them if they are willing to sign a valid sales contract with you. If they start to hesitate or make sure it's not necessary, think twice before buying anything there.

. 4 Is the payment method secure?

A reputable website accepts credit cards with a secure payment system (specified in the URL https: //). Or a secure third-party payment service such as PayPal is used.

Scammers like to do things differently. You may have an insecure website. You may be asked to provide your bank or credit card details by e-mail. E-mail is not safe – a scammer can use your e-mail for future scams that can endanger your computer as well as your identity. Or the cheater wants to pay by money order or bank transfer. Money orders are hard to track, and a thief can use a bank transfer to hack into your bank account.

Even paying with a debit card is risky. Credit cards offer fraud protection, but with a debit card, you can take greater losses with less protection.

. 5 If you shop locally, can you then see and check the item?

If you buy something locally, make sure that you see the item before you hand in your money. Make sure that the item is in the specified condition and is working properly. If you buy a car, have it checked by a reputable mechanic before you complete the deal. If you buy designer goods, you should research in advance to see the telltale signs of counterfeiting.

. 6 What does the Internet say?

If you suspect fraud, a quick Google search for the name of the article or listing title can tell you everything you need to know. Scammers often turn on the same advertisement in several places over a longer period of time. If people have been cheated in the past, the title may appear in your search results. Read reviews with a critical eye. If they are vague and 100 percent positive, they may be wrong and a sign of fraud. If people complain of being cheated, stay away. You can also search for company ratings on the Better Business Bureau website (BBB) ​​or use the Scam Tracker tool.

If you've been the victim of a fraud sale, you can do so at the BBB or one of the agencies listed on the USA.gov Fraud and Fraud Report page. She is an avid reader who values ​​the importance of unread books more than reading.

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