The National Consumer Leagues Internet Fraud Watch ranked fraudulent credit card offers as #8 among its top 10 list of Internet scams. The NCL says overall fraud reports have tripled during the past year with multilevel marketing, auctions and sweepstakes also falling among the top 10. Only 19% of fraud victims pay by credit card with 60% paying by check, cash or money orders. NCLs IFW says the most common Internet credit card scams involve offers of guaranteed credit regardless of bad credit history. In the September issue, CardTrak cautioned consumers against applying for VISA or MasterCards online if there is no phone number, physical address or if the company does not have a familiar name.
The National Consumers League has a message for the 37 million Web users: Buyers beware of con artists lurking on the Internet.
Internet fraud reports have tripled in the last year according to the National Consumers League. In response, the League today unveiled new Web pages for its Internet Fraud Watch (http://www.fraud.org/ifw.htm) and released the top 10 Internet scams. NCL also released first time state-by-state rankings of the top 20 locations for reports of fraud and victims of Internet fraud.
“Internet Fraud Watch provides the latest information on types of Internet scams and gives tips on how to protect yourself from fraudulent deals,” said NCL President Linda F. Golodner. “Our new Web pages give consumers even more resources to avoid fraud.”
Internet use is projected to grow 60 percent in 1997, with revenues reaching an estimated $12 billion. According to reports to the League, the most frequent subject Internet fraud are:
1. Internet and on-line services
2. General merchandise
3. Auction sales
4. Pyramids and multilevel marketing
5. Business opportunities and franchises
6. Work-at-Home schemes
7. Prizes and sweepstakes
8. Credit card offers
9. Book sales
10. Magazine subscriptions
“It’s like a giant yard sale in cyberspace,” said Internet Fraud Watch director Susan Grant. “Consumers purchase a variety of items that are advertised on-line, but they don’t always get what they bargained for.”
The most common signs of fraud are extravagant promises of profits, guarantees of credit regardless of bad credit history, incredibly low prices or prizes that require up front payments.
Internet Fraud Watch assists fraud victims by relaying reports daily to more than 150 law enforcement agencies in the United States and Canada, including the Federal Trade Commission, state Attorneys General and police departments.
Surprisingly, more than 60 percent of Internet fraud victims pay by check, cash, or money orders, and 19 percent by credit card. Others pay by telephone bills, bank account debits, and wire transfers.
“Consumers lose between $10 to $10,000 in Internet scams,” said Golodner. “Cybercrooks are in your wallet with a click of the mouse.”
In 1997, the Internet Fraud Watch has received funding from MasterCard, NationsBank, MCI and Bell Atlantic.
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization.