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Front Page » October 28, 2008 » Carbon County News » Deceptive Internet practices dominate Utahns' complaints
Published 2,537 days ago

Deceptive Internet practices dominate Utahns' complaints

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Deceptive practices conducted via the Internet continued to dominate the types of scams reported to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection during fiscal year 2008.

The con artists rely on the Internet to exploit the vulnerability of Utahns residing at locations throughout the state, pointed out the consumer protection division.

One factor contributing to the vulnerability of consumers focuses on the fact that the con artists make the pitches in the privacy of an individual's home, where the person feels less guarded.

People also tend to believe what they read and the method of payment for Internet transactions is simple as well as easy.

But unfortunately, consumers have little recourse in the event they fall victim to the deceptive practices, emphasized the state agency.

Common tactics frequently used by the Internet con artists include the unauthorized debiting of an individual's bank account, the automatic billing of monthly fees until cancellation notices are received and the failure to provide consumers with a three-day right of rescission.

To alleviate the risks of falling victim to E-commerce and Internet scams, the consumer protection division encourages Carbon County residents to:

•Check out the companies and offers prior to conducting business at the websites.

Dishonest individuals operate in the bricks and mortar world as well as on the Internet, indicated the state agency.

But online, people cannot judge an operator's trustworthiness with a gut-affirming look in the eye and it is remarkably simple for Internet scammers to impersonate a legitimate business.

•Never click on links or reply to an email, text or pop-up message requesting personal or financial information.

Identity thieves have obtained personal information from many victims at once by hacking into large databases managed by businesses or government agencies, explained the consumer protection agency.

While consumers cannot enjoy all benefits of the Internet without sharing limited personal information, local web visitors should exercise caution and deal only with familiar or trusted organizations.

People should never provide personal information before finding out how the data will be used and protected.

•Personally type bank and business web addresses into the browsers.

•Ignore email, text, pop-up or phone messages that asks people to call a number to update accounts or give personal information to access a refund.

Consumers should personally contact the bank numbers listed on financial statements and look up businesses in a telephone directory, noted the state agency.

•Complete independent research before shopping on an unfamiliar website.

Consumers should call the seller's telephone number before purchasing products or services online, advised the state agency. If people cannot find a working telephone number, they should shop at a different site.

•Type the web address into a search engine and avoid doing business with the seller if unfavorable reviews are posted on the website.

•Consider using a software toolbar that rates websites and warns consumers if the seller has received unfavorable reports from experts or Internet visitors.

Some reputable companies provide free tools that may alert Internet visitors if a web address is a known phishing site or is used to distribute spyware, noted the consumer protection agency.

•Never provide personal or financial information through a company's website when shopping online before checking for indicators that the site is secure.

The indicators include a lock icon on the browser's status bar or a website URL beginning with https. The S in the address stands for secure, explained the consumer protection agency.

Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof, warned the state agency. Some scammers have forged security icons. And some hackers have managed to breach sites that took appropriate security precautions.

•Read website privacy policies.

The privacy policies should clearly define the range of personal information the website collects.

The policies should also explain how the site intends to use the data and whether the personal information will be provided to third parties, concluded the state consumer protection division.

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October 28, 2008
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