Following Some Simple Steps Can Help You Avoid Fraud.
$240 million. That's how much money was lost in online fraud in 2007 according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Of that amount, confidence scams accounted for more than $16 million dollars.
The number of confidence scams is growing. The Internet Crime Complaint Center received almost 207,000 complaints in 2007 of fraud. 90,000 (45%) of these complaints were considered to be legitimate cases and referred to various law enforcement agencies. These cases included crimes such as non-delivery of goods or services (24.9%), confidence scams (6.7%), credit card fraud (6.3%), check fraud (6%) and computer fraud (5.3%).
So that's an ugly snapshot of what is been reported over the past year. However by taking some simple steps and applying common sense to business deals, you can take steps to minimize the risk of potential fraud.
If a client needs you to pay a fee, borrow money or cash a check and transfer the money to their account for them these are warning signs.
If something is too good to be true it probably is.
Be wary of clients who do not want to provide identification.
Listen to your gut. If something seems off with a situation, it probably is. Bring a third party to the table. Explain what you are able to under the terms of working agreement and then ask for their perspective.
Contracts are not a security blanket. At the end of the day, they are only paper to a con artist. Always perform due diligence prior to signing a contract and ask for legal or expert advice if you're unsure of something.
Be cautious of leaving personal or confidential information in your work area. Consider meeting with clients you do not know in a separate area.
Websites can provide excellent insight into an organization. However, anyone can create an Internet presence for a fictional company. If you have a client who is representing overseas interests, request a meeting with a representative of the organization.
Never give anyone your credit card number, Social Security Number, or other personal information for a purpose you don't understand.
To stop a thief from receiving personal information from the trash or recycling bin, shred anything that may contain personal information prior to disposal.
Memorize your passwords and personal identification numbers instead of carrying them with you. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
Keep detailed notes of your meetings with clients. This act can assist the police in reconstructing the crime and can help you identify what information the thieves may have access to. Be specific; times, dates, locations and people the more your record the more time you can save should you need it.
What to do if you believe you're a victim of fraud:
Report the crime to the local authorities and request a police report. Though the authorities may be limited in what they can do to help, a report may be necessary to help convince lenders that someone else has opened an account in your name.
Regularly review your credit reports. There are several free options available to review your credit accounts the federal government recommends www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/ if you would like further information, go to http://www.ftc.gov/freereports.
Contact any one of the three major credit reporting agencies and request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit file.
Subscribe to a credit monitoring service. You'll be able to spot the first signs of identity theft and alerted to any changes in your credit reports.