Wishing to buy a car? Looking for accommodation or a job? You will probably head towards classified ads websites. These are indeed very useful, but beware of scams!
Scams are frauds which nowadays are unfortunately increasing on the web. But there is no need to panic! Here are some guidelines to help you recognize different types of scams you can encounter on the Internet so as to avoid being conned.
How to recognize a scam?
- Most of the time, these ads are posted by a big company, but the e-mail address used does not match with the company's domain name, or is a non-professional e-mail address (eg. @yahoo.com or @gmail.com). Feel free to request a reply from a professional e-mail address.
- Some kinds of job offers, particularly in hotels, on cruise ships and as au-pair, often attract job seekers with high salaries. Remember that when it seems too good to be true, it is often the case! You must have understood by now that these are tricky ads!
- An unknown person contacts you by private message to offer you significant profits via an innovative sales system, a business opportunity, or to become your own boss, an international representative, or to make extra income. It is a generally a pyramid selling scheme, to be avoided at all costs!
- Beware of recruitment agencies and job offers requesting visa fees. Make sure to verify whether their e-mails contain format and spelling mistakes. Check whether the company really exists and seek information and advice with friends, contacts or on public forums.
- Housing ads referring to houses or apartments for rent at low prices in the city center and whose owner is abroad. These are often supported by professional pictures. Inquire on the indicated price on other housing websites or on forums.
- Someone contacts you by private message to offer housing for rent and requests advance payment before you have visited the premises. Never send money to an unknown person, whether bank checks, cash or via bank transfer.
- If you come across ads referring to car sales at very low prices, supported by professional pictures on which the registration plates have been blurred, these are scams. The same applies to second hand cars whose owners are abroad and when advance payment is requested.
- Beware of loan offers between individuals at low interest rates. Never take loans from any unofficial source except banks.
- An unknown person contacts you in private for friendship or more and will finally end up by requesting you to send him money for whatever purpose. Stop all exchanges at once!
- Someone has hacked a friend's or contact's account, saying he is in deep trouble abroad and needs financial help. This is called "phishing".
What should you do?
The first thing you can do in case of doubt is to contact the website's administrators who will proceed with basic verifications (IP and e-mail addresses). In general, all professional websites verify ads before these are validated. However, some ads may still fall through the cracks.
What we advise
- Never give out your e-mail address, password, phone number or other personal details on public forums.
- Do not buy products and goods at unrealistic prices and whose owners are abroad. Make sure that the seller is a trustworthy person when buying goods on classified ads websites. Feel free to request advices and remarks on the web.
- If you suspect that your friend's or contact's account has been hacked, warn him by phone or in person.