The web has given us the ability to find and pay for just about anything from around the world. Underneath this vast oasis of choice comes hidden benefits such as having the ability to save money by comparison shopping versus being stuck with the big box retailers. You also get the ability to invest directly in lucrative foreign markets directly, which is something you may not have been able to before.
Like any transaction, however, there are some risks.
Sending money online is easier and safer than ever thanks to innovative new tracking tools. The process of sending money across the web has greatly increased your financial protection due to the ability to verify senders, transfer using encrypted networks, and having insurance options before and after the transfer. This increase in security has deterred many individuals from abusing the system, though there are always a few bad apples.
Remember that it doesn’t matter if it’s $1 or $1000. Online security will help protect 99% of your online money transfers, but there are the 1% that happen on the consumer end of the process…
Common Money Scams
The best way to protect your finances is to learn and understand the risks:
Fake checks – Someone may send you money in an attempt to have you wire it back but almost every time the check will bounce and you’ll be footing the bill.
Money Transfers – Someone may get in touch with you asking for money (such as if they’re in “need” or wanted to send you items). You complete the transfer and the person vanishes – off they go with your money.
Snake Oil Products – Marketers can make almost anything tempting and attractive and this is certainly so with so called “miracle cures” and other snake oil products. If it’s too good to be true then it probably is. You’re out on your money and now the new owner of a fake item.
Imposters – Someone may get in touch claiming to be someone from a reputable company or posing a lucrative investment/purchase. They’ll fake their credentials and use phishing and social engineering techniques to get your information. They’ll push your trust and go after your finances.
Investment Opportunities – Someone may offer you a lucrative investment opportunity which generally requires you to send money to “get in on the biz”. These are generally pyramid schemes or dummy companies created to fail. Their ability to conduct these actions online makes it difficult to trace and get back the loses.
Protecting Your Funds
It’s critical that you educate yourself on these common types of financial scams – take a look at the following tips and suggestions for protecting your funds:
Practice and follow guidelines for due diligence. This involves gathering as much information about a person or business, such as their location, public image, and standing with the local chamber of commerce. Analyze this information, get in contact, and seek third party confirmation. An hour of research can save you from horrific financial disasters.
Request as much information from the source to prove their legitimacy. Do not take their word for it just because they claim a certain position. Have them send their credentials and, again, practice your due diligence with this information.
Follow most of the same steps outlined by Joshua in his post about protecting your identity online. His tips are very much in line with what’s required to keep your finances safe.
Take a proactive route during your research and elp others by reporting persons and businesses attempting to scam to the FTC,
Once you’ve acquired enough information you should now have enough knowledge and trust to go forward with the transaction. Be sure to use a reputable money transfer service that allows you to track the transfer of your funds and provides robust security features. Keep track of your records like you would for taxes – reconfirm everything with the other party and get it written on paper.
Though there are these risks it shouldn’t deter you from flexing your purchasing power. All you really need is a little education so that you may keep your finances safe when transferring money online.