The internet is growing and it seems nearly everyone in the world now has access. It is becoming the most important place to do business, contact friends and even get a good job. New businesses open every day because the web offers low investment and nearly no barriers to entry. Romance and partners are available by clicking different profiles in Match.com and other dating sites. And connecting with friends and making new friends on social networking sites like Facebook has made life less physical, and more electronic. Everything we do is now online, it seems. Connecting with people, learning about new places, booking travel, meeting meeting new friends, finding new jobs, researching new investments, connecting with businesses and companies, and reaching out to new contacts, and submitting forms and sending emails and even payments online. We all do it and it seems so common in fact, that most of this forget or don’t know the risks involved.
That’s the power of internet. Making life easier, some say. With all this easy access to information and people and businesses around the world, there is an equal rise in new forms of crime, many of these involving scams and fraud via the internet. Identity theft, romance scams, investment fraud, advance fee fraud, and visa scams, travel scams, marriage fraud, online dating scams, immigration scams, phishing scams, spam email, hacking and countless others are on the rise. The FBI and embassies around the world report that complaints and crime victims are up. Crimes and scams range from losing several hundred dollars and having a broken heart to a ruined life and your complete life savings stolen from you, and your identity taken. Some crime starts via the internet, but can end in murder, rape or abduction, as many trusting users of dating and social network sites publish their private information on line, and let criminals know where they live, what time their home, their photos and date of birth, and even more.
Scammers can leave you a strong feeling of deceit, frustration and loss of control as most crimes cannot be prosecuted. Internet criminals have the advantage of anonymity via the internet, and law enforcement and investigators often struggle to identify, locate and arrest them.
International private investigators have been working overtime with international background checks, international due diligence, dating background checks, and other professional investigation services to minimize the risk for clients around the world. Through their experience, they offer some telling advice on how to stay safe online, and how to mitigate the risk.
All online relationships, whether business or personal should be verified for your own good.
Online Safety Check List
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If the offer is truly worth it, it’s worth some time and research to make sure it’s done right. This is true with love and investments.
- Be very skeptical of any emails asking for your password or login information. Never provide that information to anyone via an email, and if you’re not sure, call the business directly.
- No job offering is serious if you have to pay a fee upfront. 99% of the time, this is a scam.
- Be very skeptical of anyone claiming to offer you an easy visa or passport, or unknown travel agency. Ask for references and proof that you are dealing with a reputable company.
- Never provide indecent photos of yourself to anyone online. These can be used as blackmail.
- Be skeptical when online dating. Never reveal too much personal information and never send money to anyone who has not been verified by a professional private investigator.
- Never reveal personal data on Facebook or similar sites. Letting the public know where you live, your full name and date of birth is a very fast and effective way to be a victim.
- If you’re considering a new supplier, investment or business partnership with a company overseas, stop and consider the risk. Verify with an international background check or international due diligence so you know the facts, and then make an informed decision.
The internet is a great tool with many opportunities. Know the risk. Be safe.
Best of luck,
© 2011 A Hathaway