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Don't Be Fooled by Scammers
they are only interested in taking your money

We've touched on hackers in Internet Tips (IT01 & IT04), and these low-lifes are more than just a nuisance. Once into your system, they can strip almost anything - personal and bank details, address books, in fact any information which they can use to steal from you and your friends. And that includes your identity, a particular loss that will, I guarantee, leave you devastated. Guard against these parasites by signing up with a reputable online Security Manager such as Norton, McCafee or Kaspersky. DON'T trust emails supposedly from people you know if the wording doesn't seem like theirs; NEVER click on a suggested link until you have verified its authenticity; and NEVER pass on personal or financial details unless 100% certain the recipient is beyond reproach.

Online shopping is a step up from the old mail-order catalogue system and similar rules apply. When you can't physically handle the goods, you don't know if the quality is up to expectation; and having the option of a full refund if dissatisfied sounds good until you have to pay freight costs to return the purchase. With most sight-unseen purchases, you will probably be required to pay at least a deposit before the item is shipped, then wait to receive it - IF you ever do! Whether purchased from a source located in your own state or county, another province in your country of residence, or overseas; trying to get your money back from this kind of scam is next-to impossible. Check the authenticity of the seller online; and when you have to give out your card details, only do so to a reputable agency such as PayPal - nine times out of ten, if you get stiffed, they will ensure you aren't out of pocket.

A slight twist of this last scam targets those doing the selling. Quite often, the scammer will pay with a cheque for the goods or services you offer; but the amount to you will be more than the price asked. A simple mistake, they will claim, and easily fixed - just send a money transfer for the difference. DON'T! At least, not until their cheque or money order has cleared through your bank. If it doesn't - report it to the Cyber Crime Squad.

One last warning about those mongrels who front up on your doorstep promising bargain services such as repairs and refurbishments. In Australia, our bitumen bandits are at it again, offering to pour a great new driveway for a fraction of the cost due to the fact that they are doing a job down the road and have some left-over materials going begging. A message to old people, especially those living alone: please don't get conned by these criminals; and never hand over your cash to any so-called trades-person, no matter what excuse they use for insisting on it; not until they have completed the job to your satisfaction. And a word to good neighbours: keep an eye on these very vulnerable members of society - they really do need your help to avoid being conned.

There are too many scams to cover in this brief article, and there are always more in the making. My best advice is to be like me - a dyed-in-the-wool cynic. Treat the arrival of every new opportunity with suspicion - why did it come; how did I get picked; what's in it for me; but, more importantly, what can I lose when it goes sour? These days, and probably since time began, there's nothing for nothing. Even A Season of Happiness costs something - a small portion of your Internet allocation to visit, plus paper and ink to print whatever you download - but that's a drop in the ocean compared to the hundreds, maybe thousands, scammers will attempt to strip from you with the click of a mouse. So, get cynical, get wise, and tell the scammers to get lost!

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