Subscribe with Bloglines The Privacy Lawyer: Scams and fraud online...suspending all sense of reality

Friday, August 06, 2004

Scams and fraud online...suspending all sense of reality

what is it about something typed into an e-mail or on a website that causes people to suspend all sense of reality and believe anything they read online?

Thousands of people have lost their life savings to the Nigerian scams, when they are promised a piece of the multi-million dollar action because a complete stranger tells them they were selected for their trustworthiness. I recently received an e-mail from a young woman in India who told me that a complete stranger contacted her to give her a piece of his business. She gave him lots of personal information about herself, believing that he was going to give her this business.

I think that when we are online, we forget that we don't really know those we read about, or hear from. And when something comes to us, and it touches us in some telling us that our bank account has been compromised, or that we will lose our paypal privileges or no be able to bid on ebay anymore, we react before we think. We give out our passwords and logins by accessing the linked site, thinking we are logging into Citibank, or Paypal, or eBay. Instead we are giving away our information to scam artists and fraudsters.

And if someone posts something on a website that doesn't make sense, and the pieces of the puzzle don't fit together, if they say things that make us angry, or make us want to defend them, we forget to use our heads. Instead of reading things completely, we react. Insteading of questioning the credibility of someone you don't know, who hasn't earned the trust of others you trust, we entrust people who are not worthy of your trust.

The best way to protect yourself online is by using your head. If something appears too good to be true, it's not true. If something doesn't make sense, don't take it at face value. Good judgment should apply online as much as offline, perhaps even more so.

think before you click "send".



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