There is plenty of good advice on the web about how to make money online, including this helpful article. However, as we all know, all that (virtually) glitters is not gold. That means there are many scams out there that prey on unsuspecting victims, and that turn what should be a path to extra money into a costly and stressful nightmare.
Now, if you’re expecting me to warn you about strange ALL CAPS emails from diplomats claiming to be in possession of vast sums of money that you can help them access — and in the process, earn yourself thousands or maybe even millions of dollars — then don’t worry: I won’t insult your intelligence or waste your time! Obviously, you know that those types of emails are absolutely, utterly and unquestionably fraudulent. And if you’re lucky, your email spam filter does a decent job of limiting your exposure to them.
But there are much more sophisticated cyber criminals out there who use more subtle ways to ensnare victims; including many people who are otherwise very skeptical about illicit schemes. In some extreme but not unheard of situations, some people have even been forced to file for bankruptcy (to learn more about bankruptcy filing in general, visit www.charleshuberlaw.com).
And so, to help you — or someone you care about — avoid heading down the wrong path, here are three scam red flags to watch out for when it comes to making money online:
- You’re asked to provide an up-front payment.
If you’re pursuing a legitimate opportunity such as possibly opening a franchise or creating a drop ship e-commerce store, then somewhere down the road you’ll need to provide some kind of payment to some vendor, agent or service provider.
However, this is a far cry from being asked to provide an up-front payment simply to learn more about the opportunity. There is about as big and bright as a red flag can get. The moment you’re asked to pay a cent, hang up the phone or delete the email, and feel intense relief for dodging a big bullet!
- It sounds too good to be true.
There is (probably) nothing wrong with a legitimate money-making opportunity that points to significant wealth in the future. But if your Spidey Sense is tingling because the deal sounds too good to be true, then there is a very good chance that you’re right — and that you’re walking into a trap.
No, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should exit the opportunity. However, it does certainly mean that you should perform your due diligence, and make sure that you don’t make any assumptions.
- You’re being asked for personal information.
Increasingly, cyber criminals are hunting personally identifying information (PII) that they can use to commit identity theft, or sell on the dark web. And one of their favorite sources of confidential data is people who want to make money online.
The reason this scam works so well, is because there’s no request for money, and the opportunity doesn’t seem too good to be true. As such, the pitch doesn’t trigger any of the alarm bells that we’ve discussed so far. As such, people let their guard down and figure there is nothing wrong with sharing information such as their date of birth, details about their job, a list of their assets (car, savings, etc.), and so on.
There is no — repeat, no! — legitimate reason for these kinds of requests. The only time that you might need to provide some PII, is if you sign-up for something like running an online course. In that scenario, eventually you will need to provide some data. However, the information you supply should pass the common sense test. If you’re being asked for stuff that seems irrelevant, then look deeper to find out why it’s required, and how it will be used.
The Bottom Line
The web can be an wonderful place, but also a dangerous one. The above tips play a part in ensuring that your online path to extra money — or possibly abundant wealth — is smooth, straightforward and successful. Good luck!