Scam in cyberspace
The Internet is a new place where criminals can easily con consumers. The most common tricks include:
- E-mail offers: typically these are proposals sent by legitimate companies. However, it pays to be vigilant because it may be the case that a scammer pretends to be a known shop and invites us to do shopping. The website looks almost identical as that of a popular shop with an established reputation.
- Testing services: it is worthwhile to check if a free of charge test service is not in fact a paid contract containing clauses that automatically extend the “free service” into an expensive and unnecessary contract.
- Lottery scams: scammers send an e-mail to a specific Internet user with an information that he/she won the lottery and is entitled to prize money. It all starts with an e-mail with congratulations – your are the winner although have not taken part in any contest.
- Vague letters of reference, letters of praise: “Thousands of satisfied customers!” – it sounds great and impressive, but it does not allow you to check the credibility of the trader.
- “This is not a scam”: do not let such declarations trick you. An honest business does not need this kind of declarations.
- Pay for a secret revealed: sometimes you can find an online offer to get to know a secret method of becoming rich for the chosen ones. Meanwhile, usually thousands of users fall victims of this trick. Fraudsters suggest that the secret would be revealed for a fee.
- Hidden expenses: watch out for classifieds and advertisements promising no initial costs, and then only asking for a single fee.
- Phishing: the offender uses generally available on-line services to trick victims and extort sensitive personal or financial data, such as a credit card number, passwords, usernames, PINs. Do not respond to e-mails requesting you to click links to update your personal data. Data disclosed impulsively are often used for criminal activities.
Unsolicited commercial communication (spam) is prohibited. Polish law provides for the opt-in variant, i.e. prior approval of the customer-addressee is required. Also default permission (e.g. disclosure of your e-mail) is considered a consent, provided that the addressee was generally informed of the intention to use the e-mail for marketing purposes.
At the same time, an unsolicited provision by electronic means takes place at the risk of the trader. The consumer is not required to pay any fees for this kind of service provided.
Online auctions/listing websites
Please note that a contract is not concluded with an auction website (e.g. eBay, Allegro) or with the listing website operator, but with the person who published an offer. Therefore it is worthwhile to check the credibility of the seller and his/her status: whether it is a natural person or a trader.
Escrow companies act as intermediaries in on-line sales: a consumer sends them a payment, the seller sends them goods, and they exchange these two, i.e. the buyer receives the goods and the seller gets the money.