Beware! The Internet is teeming with thieves just waiting to steal your money – or your identity – or both. So, here are the red flag words that’ll clue you in that it’s a scam:

  • The first word is usually connected to identity theft: Congratulations. As in, “Congratulations! You’ve won a free iPad.” But the moment you enter your personal and financial information to claim your bogus prize, the identity thief will be off on a spending spree.

  • Another word that signals trouble online: Homeowner. As in, “Homeowners, click here to reduce your mortgage!” According to the Federal Trade Commission, mortgage assistance scams are one of the fastest-growing cons on the Internet. If you haven’t asked a legitimate company to send you re-fi or loan information, delete the email.

  • Then there’s: Risk-Free Trial Offer. Carrie Lorimer is the Director of Operations for The Better Business Bureau. She says that “risk-free” offers are legal – but just barely. In fact, they’re designed to hit your credit card for as many monthly charges as possible. Here’s the deal: they get you to sign up for a subscription service – say, for daily weight loss tips. And if you’re not happy, they insist you can cancel at any time. But when you try to cancel, the company drags their feet. And by the time they finish the “cancelation process,” you’re out several months’ worth of fees.

Lesson Expert

Betsy Chase

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