Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Top (Free) Anti-Fraud Resources Found by Fraud, Phishing and Financial Misdeeds

The official start of the holiday season is upon us. With the rapid growth of e-commerce and the fraud implications thereof, this post represents the top "free" resources I've found that combat Fraud, Phishing and Financial Misdeeds.

Before I start, when we are confronted by scams, it is imperative that we report them to Law Enforcement. The best resource (most detailed) is the link in the preceding line from the folks at Quatloosia, which is a non-profit organization.

In fact, I suspect there are too many of us, who due to time constraints, simply laugh at the attempts to defraud us. Unfortunately, the people (who commit fraud on the internet) can target (thousands) with a click of the mouse. Reporting this activity protects the innocent, who might have their entire holiday season ruined by one of these fraudulent schemes.

A quick (easy) way to report suspicious activity online is the Internet Fraud Complaint Center.

If you are are victim, I highly recommend Annie McGuire's site, FraudAid, which has been serving the public since 2000. This site is literally full of great information on how to avoid becoming a victim and how to repair the damage that has been done. In fact, I've had the pleasure of chatting with Annie and she is a fine person, who truly does this to help people.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also a great resource. Recently, they published tips in Spanish, Alerta en LĂ­nea. Of course, they also have a lot of fantastic information in English and here are their Holiday Tips, the FTC's Holiday shopping alert [Text] [PDF].

The Better Business Bureau also has a lot of information. On their main page is an article "Shopping Online For The Holidays: "Twelve Tips To Protect Yourself From Cyber Grinches, Scams And Schemes (full story)."

When deciding who to give our business to, a good resource is the Bad Business Bureau, which publishes the Rip-Off Report. This is a consumer driven site, where people write in and share their bad shopping experiences.

Before doing any shopping online, a good (free) resource for research is the TrustWatch Search Engine. "Sites that can be verified receive a green "verified" rating; sites that do not have enough data to be verified, but are not known to be fraudulent, receive a yellow "not verified" rating; and known fraudulent sites display a red "warning" rating. If a site is deemed to be both verified and secure for the exchange of confidential data, it receives a lock icon next to the green verification rating."

For those of us shopping on line, we face having spyware/adware loaded on our systems without our knowledge. Please note, many legitimate businesses load this on your computer in the name of marketing. SpyCop has an interesting e-book for those, who desire to learn how to protect themselves: It points out that besides Spyware and Adware programs being easily accessible, a lot of so-called programs touted as protection are no better than some of the free programs out there. One of the best free programs is Spybot Search and Destroy (S&D).

Here is a link describing the difference between spyware and adware from Webopedia, The Difference Between Adware & Spyware.

Another annoyance this season will be our e-mailboxes filling up with Spam. The worst sort of Spam entails phishing attempts, where one it lured to a fake (faux) website in order to be tricked into giving up personal and financial information to be used in identity theft. With pharming and the use of keyloggers, this activity is becoming more automated and posing a significantly higher risk to all of us. A great resource to learn about this is the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), which has educational resources on how to avoid these scams.

Many of us will use an increasingly popular method of shopping, which are auction sites. A lot of people have become victims on these sites and e-Bay is the largest player. I prefer the warning information on CraigsList. Craig Newmark (allegedly himself) put this together, "cashier check & wire transfer scams and avoid recalled items. Craigslist gets 3 billion page views a month and although they do charge for certain things (rarely), most of it is free. Furthermore, Craigs provides not only an auction site, but a lot of resources to help people, which again are mostly free.

Anyway, the Richardson Family (Ted, Mrs. and Leigh, who is sometimes Ted's personal technical advisor") wish everyone a safe, sane and financially prosperous holiday shopping season. Remember that being AWARE is the best protection against "financial misdeeds" and educating others to be AWARE protects the innocent, which is a kind thing to do.

After all, isn't kindness what the season is supposed to be about?

To share this information with those you care about, click on the envelope (below) and the post can be forwarded via e-mail. It won't bring you bad luck if you don't, but it might make someone else a little luckier.

1 comment:

Anne said...

thanks... good, helpful info