If you use email, frequent the Internet, have a telephone, or open your door to solicitors, it’s likely that you will be targeted by con artists at some time in your life. If you are very active on the internet, that likelihood seems to increase daily. Con artists are sharp, believable, and creative, and they want your money, usually right now. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is … so says the office of State Attorney Jeffrey L. Ashton, Orange County, Florida.
Tips to Help You Avoid Con Artists’ Schemes …
Beware of terms, such as Cash Only, Secret Plans, Something for Nothing, Haste, Today Only and Last Chance in e-mails, Internet ads, or from telephone solicitors. If it sounds too good to be true, you are likely to be dealing with a scam artist. In addition ….
- Work from home schemes are almost always scams.
- Avoid “pay today” pressure tactics.
- Get specifics from anyone who offers you something you are interested in.
- When accommodations are included in a special offer (perhaps for a free vacation) check to make sure the hotel exists and to confirm payment and reservations.
- Always ask about the refund policy before you buy. And get it in writing.
- Read a contract before signing, and when in doubt, have someone you trust review it.
To Avoid Being Targeted by Online Scammers …
- Keep your private information private. Be very careful about information you share on Facebook and other social media. Provide as few details as possible in your online profiles, especially if they can be used to steal your identity.
- Know the online merchants you deal with. Check out their websites and make sure you are using their official website when conducting online business.
- Only download APPs (computer applications) from the Official Apps Store on your phone, not by clicking on an Internet ad.
- Take nothing for granted. Always question out-of-this-world claims.
- Make sure your transaction is secure. Look for “https” (note the s) in the URL in your browser and look for the lock symbol, as well.
- Watch out for .exe files that can ruin your hard drive or collect information. Never open a file from a source you are not 100% certain you can trust.
- Block inappropriate sites.
If you believe you are targeted by a con artist, contact your local State Attorney’s Consumer Protection Department. You can reach the State Attorney 9th Judicial Circuit (Orange County, FL) by ..
- E-mail: FraudHelp@sao9.org
- Phone: 407.836.2490
- Mail: Orange County Consumer Fraud Unit, 415 N. Orange Avenue, P.O. Box 1673, Orlando, FL 32801
The State Attorney prosecutes criminal violations of Florida consumer protection statutes. For more information, visit the State Attorney’s consumer education website.
While the majority of businesses in Florida are honest and trustworthy, there is a small but very active minority of business people who are not the least bit interested in customer satisfaction and who resort to fraudulent, unfair or deceptive practices to maximize their profits. The Central Florida area is a favorite target of fly-by-night swindlers and itinerants who often pass through leaving a trail of unhappy victims before local law enforcement agencies are even aware of their presence.
In some cases, consumers will need to pursue their own case in court and seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. Solomita Law may be reached at 407-545-3625.