While we’re on the subject of giving out credit card information on the Web, don’t ever give out your credit card number through e-mail. Sending e-mail is just like sending a post card, with the contents of the e-mail open and viewable to anyone who sees it. Educate yourself! The U.S. Federal Trade Commission offers consumer education
information as well as a way to file a complaint online. The FTC doesn’t
try to resolve the complaint for you. Instead, filing a complaint helps
them investigate fraud and could lead to legal action against the company.
You can also go through this organization to file a report on an identify theft or an online transaction involving a foreign company. ftc.gov/ftc At the FTC site, be sure to read what they consider to be the top ten “dot con” scams. ftc.gov/bcp
If you enjoy participating in online auctions, beware! Online auction fraud is a real problem and was Internet Fraud Watch’s top complaint in the year 2000. How can you protect yourself?
When possible, charge your purchases to a credit card. And, make sure that the seller has a good, solid feedback reputation. Also, read this article by the National Consumers League. www.fraud.org
Now, let’s move into the area of reporting fraud. Be sure to complete the online form at the FTC site (ftc.gov/ftc). Complaints from organizations such as the National Fraud Information Center, Federal Trade Commission, and National Consumers League are all funneled into a database maintained by Consumer Sentinel, an international law enforcement fraud-fighting program. This information is then shared with law enforcement agencies across the world. At the Fraud Bureau, besides being able to file a complaint, you can also search their database for complaints filed against online businesses and even sellers at online auctions. fraudbureau.com
You can also file a fraud complaint at the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, which is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center. ifccfbi.gov
The Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has a site where you can report Internet-related crime. We mentioned the Better Business Bureau Online and TRUSTe in Part 1 of this article as organizations that businesses can join to show that they participate in ethical online business practices. Consumers can also file online complaints at the BBB Online, and the Better Business Bureau where the company is located will handle the complaint. bbbonline.org
TRUSTe is an organization that believes that you should have full control over the uses of your personal information. If you believe that your privacy has been violated online, you can file an online complaint with this organization. www.truste.org
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