10 Top Tips To Beat the Scammers — Part 2

In Part 2, we identify 5 more key weapons to beat the scammers in 2009: Internet Scambusters #318

Last week we listed five important steps you can take to beat
the scammers if they try to take you on in 2009.

In this article, we add another five — making 10 in all —
with a particular focus on identity theft, the biggest scam of

By taking these simple precautions, you can substantially
reduce the risk that you’ll lose your money, your identity, or
both, to the villains.

Before we get started, we suggest you visit last week’s most
popular articles from our other websites:

2 Easy Tips for Getting out of Holiday Credit Card Debt: Tips to remedy that holiday credit card debt you might find yourself in.

4 New Year’s Resolutions to Help Prevent Identity Theft: Make some resolutions about how to prevent identity theft for you and your family.

Key Ways to Reduce the Photo Size of Your Images Using iPhoto (For Mac Users): A quick, easy way to reduce photo size with iPhoto, just for Mac users.

Winter Safety Tips that Could Save Your Life: Things you need to do to stay safe this winter, whether the storm of the century hits you or not.

Time to get going…

A New Year’s Resolution: 10 Top Tips To Beat the Scammers — Part 2

We want 2009 to be a scam-free year for all our subscribers,
so we’re offering some of the most valuable tips to beat the
scammers, for you to add to your New Year’s resolutions.

Last week, we listed five simple things you can do to cut the
risk of being scammed:

  1. Be skeptical — trust no one, even friends and family who
    may be innocent accomplices.

  2. Don’t click on links or attachments — always check them
    out first.

  3. Use your eyes — watch what goes on around you and always
    check the small print.

  4. Take your time — don’t be rushed into making decisions or
    signing documents.

  5. Know the rules — so you’ll know if someone offers a deal
    that’s actually illegal.

Read the full issue at A New Year Resolution: 10 Top Tips To Beat the Scammers — Part 1.

This time we complete our list with five more tips. Most of
them specifically relate to identity theft. You can find out a
lot more about this evil crime by checking out other
Scambusters articles and by visiting our Identity Theft
Information Center

Now, on with our tips list…

Tip #6. Protect your identity

Again, it may sound obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many
people are careless with information that can be used by
criminals to pass themselves off as their victims.

For a start, that means taking special care of documents and
other items you carry around with you — like credit and
health insurance cards. Keep them out of sight and out of
reach. Never leave them in your car, and leave those you don’t
need, like your Social Security card, at home.

Equally, don’t be too generous with information about yourself
on the Internet, especially on social networks liked Facebook,
MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter. Disclosing info like your
address or phone number, your employer and your educational
and career history, all provide valuable background for ID thieves.

Tip #7. Monitor yourself

In Tip #3 we mentioned the importance of checking the details
of your bank and credit card statements to provide early
warning of identity theft. Well, that’s just the start of the
whole process of monitoring the activities of those who keep
records about you.

You also should take advantage of your entitlement to get a
free report on your credit rating once a year from each of the
three major credit reporting agencies — again so you can spot
anything unusual. Also check out your medical and employment
records and keep a close eye on your tax records — all of
these are used by scammers in building up stolen identities
and, sometimes, even assuming the full identity of victims.

Sound like too much trouble? Don’t have the time? Then
consider enrolling with a company that will monitor your
credit activities and issue an immediate alert if someone
tries to pass themselves off as you.

Tip #8. Stay up to date

Crooks want to break into your computer, usually to steal
confidential information they can use for identity theft, and
sometimes so they can take control of your PC and link it into
their network of spamming and scamming machines.

To beat the scammers, it’s not enough to have Internet
security installed. It must be completely up to date, since
new viruses appear every day.

Make sure your security software (you do have it, don’t you?)
is set to automatically update.

But sometimes even that isn’t enough. Hackers can worm their
way into your computer using what are known as “exploits” —
techniques that take advantage of security weaknesses in
other programs like Internet browsers, email programs and even
the commercial office and graphics programs we use.

To keep ahead of the rogues, software firms constantly update
their applications. Make sure you either auto-update or
regularly check — usually via the Help menu — for new

Tip #9. Speak up

It sounds kind of obvious that when you’re unsure about what
you’re doing you should seek advice and that when things go
wrong you should ‘fess up and tell someone.

But many people are often too embarrassed to admit they need
help — with using the Internet, for example — or to report a
scam to law enforcement when they get conned.

That’s what the scammers count on — ignorance and silence.
After all, the fewer people who know how to spot their tricks
or report their crimes, the more likely they are to get away
with it.

If you feel uneasy about an unfamiliar situation online,
always seek advice — even if you just Google for help. And
if, sadly, you get scammed, report the incident immediately;
then the crook is not only more likely to get caught but he
(or she) is also less likely to be able to use his (or her)
ill-gotten gains.

By alerting law enforcement you may also be helping to prevent
other people from getting caught by the same trick.

Tip #10. Read Scambusters — and spread the word!

It’s no coincidence that Scambusters is the #1 online source
of information about Internet and associated frauds. We work
hard to provide the best scam reports, and we’ve been around
for far longer than most.

When the media want a scam expert for an interview or sound
bite, they frequently call on us. We’ve been listed
independently among the most useful and user-friendly sites.
And our service is free (helped by earnings from sponsors,
advertisers and other sites, which we encourage you to

In these hard-pressed economic times, it’s more important than
ever to take action to beat the scammers. And you can be sure
we’re looking out for you and will report on their latest tricks.

So, in addition to following our 10 tips, we ask you to do
three things for 2009:

  • Continue to subscribe to Scambusters to keep up to date.

  • Look back regularly through our list of articles to keep
    yourself informed about all types of scams.

  • Tell your friends and relatives about Scambusters, so we can
    help them too.

Help yourselves, help each other — and let’s beat the
scammers in 2009!

That’s a wrap for this issue. Wishing you a great week!