Common Fraud Schemes


Super Moderator
Federal Bureau of Investigation

Common Fraud Schemes

The FBI is warning the public about an ongoing scheme involving jury service. Please be aware that individuals identifying themselves as U.S. court employees have been contacting citizens by phone and advising them that they have been selected for jury duty. These individuals ask citizens to verify names and social security numbers and then ask for their credit card numbers. If the request is refused, citizens are then threatened with fines.

Telemarketing Fraud

When you send money to people you do not know personally or give personal or financial information to unknown callers, you increase your chances of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud.

Warning signs -- what a caller may tell you:
- "You must act 'now' or the offer won't be good."
- "You've won a 'free' gift, vacation, or prize." But you have to pay for "postage and handling" or other charges.
- "You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier." You may hear this before you have had a chance to consider the offer carefully.
- "You don't need to check out the company with anyone." The callers say you do not need to speak to anyone including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection agency.
- "You don't need any written information about their company or their references."
- "You can't afford to miss this 'high-profit, no-risk' offer."

If you hear these--or similar--"lines" from a telephone salesperson, just say "no thank you," and hang up the phone.

Some Tips to Avoid Telemarketing Fraud:

It's very difficult to get your money back if you've been cheated over the phone. Before you buy anything by telephone, remember:

Don't buy from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses understand that you want more information about their company and are happy to comply.
Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them. But, unfortunately, beware -- not everything written down is true.
Always check out unfamiliar companies with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state Attorney General, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog groups. Unfortunately, not all bad businesses can be identified through these organizations.
Obtain a salesperson's name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business. Some con artists give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers. Verify the accuracy of these items.
Before you give money to a charity or make an investment, find out what percentage of the money is paid in commissions and what percentage actually goes to the charity or investment.
Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question. "What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?"
You must not be asked to pay in advance for services. Pay services only after they are delivered.
Some con artists will send a messenger to your home to pick up money, claiming it is part of their service to you. In reality, they are taking your money without leaving any trace of who they are or where they can be reached.
Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won't pressure you to make a snap decision.
Don't pay for a "free prize." If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.
Before you receive your next sales pitch, decide what your limits are -- the kinds of financial information you will and won't give out on the telephone.
It's never rude to wait and think about an offer. Be sure to talk over big investments offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor.
Never respond to an offer you don't understand thoroughly.
Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
Your personal information is often brokered to telemarketers through third parties.
If you have information about a fraud report it to state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.

Nigerian Letter or "419" Fraud

Nigerian letter frauds combine the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter, mailed from Nigeria, offers the recipient the "opportunity" to share in a percentage of millions of dollars that the author, a self-proclaimed government official, is trying to transfer illegally out of Nigeria. The recipient is encouraged to send information to the author, such as blank letterhead stationery, bank name and account numbers and other identifying information using a facsimile number provided in the letter. Some of these letters have also been received via E-mail through the Internet. The scheme relies on convincing a willing victim, who has demonstrated a "propensity for larceny" by responding to the invitation, to send money to the author of the letter in Nigeria in several installments of increasing amounts for a variety of reasons.

Payment of taxes, bribes to government officials, and legal fees are often described in great detail with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are spirited out of Nigeria. In actuality, the millions of dollars do not exist and the victim eventually ends up with nothing but loss. Once the victim stops sending money, the perpetrators have been known to use the personal information and checks that they received to impersonate the victim, draining bank accounts and credit card balances until the victim's assets are taken in their entirety. While such an invitation impresses most law-abiding citizens as a laughable hoax, millions of dollars in losses are caused by these schemes annually. Some victims have been lured to Nigeria, where they have been imprisoned against their will, in addition to losing large sums of money. The Nigerian government is not sympathetic to victims of these schemes, since the victim actually conspires to remove funds from Nigeria in a manner that is contrary to Nigerian law. The schemes themselves violate section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code, hence the label "419 fraud."

Some Tips to Avoid Nigerian Letter or "419" Fraud:

If you receive a letter from Nigeria asking you to send personal or banking information, do not reply in any manner. Send the letter to the U.S. Secret Service, your local FBI office, or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You can also register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel.
If you know someone who is corresponding in one of these schemes, encourage that person to contact the FBI or the U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible.
Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials asking for your help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
Do not believe the promise of large sums of money for your cooperation.
Guard your account information carefully.

Impersonation/Identity Fraud

Impersonation fraud occurs when someone assumes your identity to perform a fraud or other criminal act. Criminals can get the information they need to assume your identity from a variety of sources, such as the theft of your wallet, your trash, or from credit or bank information. They may approach you in person, by telephone, or on the Internet and ask you for the information.

The sources of information about you are so numerous that you cannot prevent the theft of your identity. But you can minimize your risk of loss by following a few simple hints.

Some Tips to Avoid Impersonation/Identity Fraud:

Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements in a usable form.
Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call.
Reconcile your bank account monthly and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately.
Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet, credit cards, etc.
Report unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company, and the police as soon as you detect them.
Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year. Notify the credit bureau in writing of any questionable entries and follow through until they are explained or removed.
If your identity has been assumed, ask the credit bureau to print a statement to that effect in your credit report.
If you know of anyone who receives mail from credit card companies or banks in the names of others, report it to local or federal law enforcement authorities.

Advance Fee Scheme

An advance fee scheme occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value, such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift, and then receives little or nothing in return.

The variety of advance fee schemes is limited only by the imagination of the con artists who offer them. They may involve the sale of products or services, the offering of investments, lottery winnings, "found money," or many other "opportunities." Clever con artists will offer to find financing arrangements for their clients who pay a "finder's fee" in advance. They require their clients to sign contracts in which they agree to pay the fee when they are introduced to the financing source. Victims often learn that they are ineligible for financing only after they have paid the "finder" according to the contract. Such agreements may be legal unless it can be shown that the "finder" never had the intention or the ability to provide financing for the victims.

Some Tips to Avoid the Advanced Fee Schemes:

If the offer of an "opportunity" appears too good to be true, it probably is. Follow common business practice. For example, legitimate business is rarely conducted in cash on a street corner.
Know who you are dealing with. If you have not heard of a person or company that you intend to do business with, learn more about them. Depending on the amount of money that you intend to spend, you may want to visit the business location, check with the Better Business Bureau, or consult with your bank, an attorney, or the police.
Make sure you fully understand any business agreement that you enter into. If the terms are complex, have them reviewed by a competent attorney.
Be wary of businesses that operate out of post office boxes or mail drops and do not have a street address, or of dealing with persons who do not have a direct telephone line, who are never "in" when you call, but always return your call later.
Be wary of business deals that require you to sign nondisclosure or noncircumvention agreements that are designed to prevent you from independently verifying the bona fides of the people with whom you intend to do business. Con artists often use noncircumvention agreements to threaten their victims with civil suit if they report their losses to law enforcement.

Common Health Insurance Frauds

Medical Equipment Fraud:

Equipment manufacturers offer "free" products to individuals. Insurers are then charged for products that were not needed and/or may not have been delivered.

"Rolling Lab" Schemes:

Unnecessary and sometimes fake tests are given to individuals at health clubs, retirement homes, or shopping malls and billed to insurance companies or Medicare.

Services Not Performed:

Customers or providers bill insurers for services never rendered by changing bills or submitting fake ones.

Medicare Fraud:

Medicare fraud can take the form of any of the health insurance frauds described above. Senior citizens are frequent targets of Medicare schemes, especially by medical equipment manufacturers who offer seniors free medical products in exchange for their Medicare numbers. Because a physician has to sign a form certifying that equipment or testing is needed before Medicare pays for it, con artists fake signatures or bribe corrupt doctors to sign the forms. Once a signature is in place, the manufacturers bill Medicare for merchandise or service that was not needed or was not ordered.

Some Tips to Avoid the Health Insurance Fraud:

Never sign blank insurance claim forms.
Never give blanket authorization to a medical provider to bill for services rendered.
Ask your medical providers what they will charge and what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket.
Carefully review your insurer's explanation of the benefits statement. Call your insurer and provider if you have questions.
Do not do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you that services of medical equipment are free.
Give your insurance/Medicare identification only to those who have provided you with medical services.
Keep accurate records of all health care appointments.
Know if your physician ordered equipment for you.

Redemption/Strawman/Bond Fraud

Proponents of this scheme will claim that the U.S. Government or the Treasury Department controls bank accounts—often referred to as “U.S. Treasury Direct Accountsâ€â€”for all U.S. citizens that can be accessed by submitting paperwork with state and federal authorities. Individuals promoting this scam frequently cite various discredited legal theories and may refer to the scheme as “Redemption,†“Strawman,†or “Acceptance for Value.†Trainers and websites will often charge large fees for “kits†that teach individuals how to perpetrate this scheme. They will often imply that others have had great success in discharging debt and purchasing merchandise such as cars and homes. Failures to implement the scheme successfully are attributed to individuals not following instructions in a specific order or not filing paperwork at correct times.

This scheme predominately uses fraudulent financial documents that appear to be legitimate. These documents are frequently referred to as “Bills of Exchange,†“Promissory Bonds,†“Indemnity Bonds,†“Offset Bonds,†“Sight Drafts,†or “Comptrollers Warrants.†In addition, other official documents are used outside of their intended purpose, like IRS forms 1099, 1099-OID, and 8300. This scheme frequently intermingles legal and pseudo legal terminology in order to appear lawful. Notaries may be used in an attempt to make the fraud appear legitimate. Often, victims of the scheme are instructed to address their paperwork to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.

Some Tips to Avoid Redemption/Strawman/Bond Fraud

* Be wary of individuals or groups selling kits that they claim will inform you on to access secret bank accounts.
* Be wary of individuals or groups proclaiming that paying federal and/or state income tax is not necessary.
* Do not believe that the U.S. Treasury controls bank accounts for all citizens.
* Be skeptical of individuals advocating that speeding tickets, summons, bills, tax notifications, or similar documents can be resolved by writing “acceptance for value†on them.

If you know of anyone advocating the use of property liens to coerce acceptance of this scheme, contact your local FBI office.

Investment Related Scams:

Letter of Credit Fraud

Legitimate letters of credit are never sold or offered as investments.

Legitimate letters of credit are issued by banks to ensure payment for goods shipped in connection with international trade. Payment on a letter of credit generally requires that the paying bank receive documentation certifying that the goods ordered have been shipped and are en route to their intended destination.

Letters of credit frauds are often attempted against banks by providing false documentation to show that goods were shipped when, in fact, no goods or inferior goods were shipped.

Other letter of credit frauds occur when con artists offer a "letter of credit" or "bank guarantee" as an investment wherein the investor is promised huge interest rates on the order of 100 to 300 percent annually. Such investment "opportunities" simply do not exist. (See Prime Bank Notes for additional information.)

Some Tips to Avoid Letter of Credit Fraud:

If an "opportunity" appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Do not invest in anything unless you understand the deal. Con artists rely on complex transactions and faulty logic to "explain" fraudulent investment schemes.
Do not invest or attempt to "purchase" a "Letter of Credit." Such investments simply do not exist.
Be wary of any investment that offers the promise of extremely high yields.
Independently verify the terms of any investment that you intend to make, including the parties involved and the nature of the investment.

Prime Bank Note

International fraud artists have invented an investment scheme that offers extremely high yields in a relatively short period of time. In this scheme, they purport to have access to "bank guarantees" which they can buy at a discount and sell at a premium. By reselling the "bank guarantees" several times, they claim to be able to produce exceptional returns on investment. For example, if $10 million worth of "bank guarantees" can be sold at a two percent profit on ten separate occasions, or "traunches," the seller would receive a 20 percent profit. Such a scheme is often referred to as a "roll program." To make their schemes more enticing, con artists often refer to the "guarantees" as being issued by the world's "Prime Banks," hence the term "Prime Bank Guarantees." Other official sounding terms are also used such as "Prime Bank Notes" and "Prime Bank Debentures." Legal documents associated with such schemes often require the victim to enter into nondisclosure and noncircumvention agreements, offer returns on investment in "a year and a day", and claim to use forms required by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). In fact, the ICC has issued a warning to all potential investors that no such investments exist.

The purpose of these frauds is generally to encourage the victim to send money to a foreign bank where it is eventually transferred to an off-shore account that is in the control of the con artist. From there, the victim's money is used for the perpetrator's personal expenses or is laundered in an effort to make it disappear.

While foreign banks use instruments called "bank guarantees" in the same manner that U.S. banks use letters of credit to insure payment for goods in international trade, such bank guarantees are never traded or sold on any kind of market.

Some Tips to Avoid Prime Bank Note Related Fraud:

Think before you invest in anything. Be wary of an investment in any scheme, referred to as a "roll program," that offers unusually high yields by buying and selling anything issued by "Prime Banks."
As with any investment perform due diligence. Independently verify the identity of the people involved, the veracity of the deal, and the existence of the security in which you plan to invest.
* Be wary of business deals that require nondisclosure or noncircumvention agreements that are designed to prevent you from independently verifying information about the investment.

What is a "Ponzi" Scheme?

A Ponzi scheme is essentially an investment fraud wherein the operator promises high financial returns or dividends that are not available through traditional investments. Instead of investing victims' funds, the operator pays "dividends" to initial investors using the principle amounts "invested" by subsequent investors. The scheme generally falls apart when the operator flees with all of the proceeds, or when a sufficient number of new investors cannot be found to allow the continued payment of "dividends."

This type of scheme is named after Charles Ponzi of Boston, Massachusetts, who operated an extremely attractive investment scheme in which he guaranteed investors a 50 percent return on their investment in postal coupons. Although he was able to pay his initial investors, the scheme dissolved when he was unable to pay investors who entered the scheme later.

Some Tips to Avoid Ponzi Schemes:

As with all investments, exercise due diligence in selecting investments and the people with whom you invest.
* Make sure you fully u

Pyramid Scheme

Pyramid schemes, also referred to as franchise fraud, or chain referral schemes, are marketing and investment frauds in which an individual is offered a distributorship or franchise to market a particular product. The real profit is earned, not by the sale of the product, but by the sale of new distributorships. Emphasis on selling franchises rather than the product eventually leads to a point where the supply of potential investors is exhausted and the pyramid collapses. At the heart of each pyramid scheme there is typically a representation that new participants can recoup their original investments by inducing two or more prospects to make the same investment. Promoters fail to tell prospective participants that this is mathematically impossible for everyone to do, since some participants drop out, while others recoup their original investments and then drop out.

Some Tips to Avoid Pyramid Schemes:

Be wary of "opportunities" to invest your money in franchises or investments that require you to bring in subsequent investors to increase your profit or recoup your initial investment.
Independently verify the legitimacy of any franchise or investment before you invest.

Related Links:



New Member
mistaken impression that most spammers are simply pushy if misguided business people!!!!

The Rules to fight spam

Spammers are criminals! They are not misguided people.

DON’T believe anything spammers tell you
More than likely, the spammer has forged technical information in the message header and provided a bogus return address, and the message itself is probably full of dubious or even illegal claims.

• Don’t believe anything the spammer tells you about his offerings.
• Don’t believe that he will remove you from his list if you ask.
• Don’t believe that you voluntarily subscribed to receive his sewage just because he says you did.

Any offer made via spam is automatically untrustworthy
It is possible (and has happened many times) that a well-meaning soul with something to sell will try to advertise via spam because of its low cost and high coverage. However, such people are in the negligible minority compared with the usual swindlers, crooks, and con-artists who check their scruples at the door in order to use spam. Therefore, even if you can’t find anything else particularly wrong with a spam offer, and even if the offer is for something you very much want or need, the simple fact that it is a spam offer should set off your personal bulls*it detector.

Bulk delivery + unsolicited = spam
If the message was delivered to you as part of a bulk delivery (i.e., it went out to hundreds or even millions of others at the same time), and you didn’t give explicit prior permission for it to be sent to you, the message is spam — end of discussion. Don’t be bamboozled by statements like “you signed up for this,” or “we got your address from so-and-so.” Don’t let the spammer tell you it isn’t spam; use this rule and decide for yourself.

DON’T ever reply to spammers
You may be tempted to respond directly to spammers by means of return e-mail. DON’T. You will either reach no one at all, or else you will reach someone who had nothing to do with the spam. In all likelihood, the return address given in the spam is non-existent, and any replies will simply bounce; if the address is deliverable, it probably belongs to some completely innocent third party who doesn’t want to read a bunch of abuse (i.e., the spammer stole this address from his lists and forged it into his mailings as a form of camouflage).

On the other hand, if in fact your replies do get back to the spammer, he won’t care about your abuse at all. He will, however, note that he has reached a real, live person and will be sure to earmark your address for further spamming by himself or by others to whom he sells his “laundered” list.

DON’T play the “opt-out” game
Some spammers (fewer and fewer these days) still include some sort of e-mail address, web link, or telephone number in their messages that (they tell you) can be used to remove your address from their lists. Don’t use these. Despite what spammers or even certain members of the United States Congress might say, there’s no reason why you should be obliged to remove yourself from a mailing list when you didn’t ask to be on it in the first place. It’s just too likely that the spammer uses the “removal” feature as a means to compile lists of known-deliverable e-mail addresses, and you could simply wind up getting more spam for your trouble. Remember rules #1 and #3
To see why it is pointless to try opting out from spam, read the results of a Finnish computer scientist’s experiment in spam-list “removal.”

DON’T retaliate
Many people immediately go “postal” (become irrationally enraged) when they get annoying spam, and start sputtering threats about “mail bombs” (real or virtual), website cracking, denial-of-service attacks, exposure of the spammer’s private info, or worse. I’m pretty sure that most of these folks wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to go about this sort of revenge, but if they did know, and if they acted, they’d stand to get into even more trouble than the spammer. Providers don’t like spammers, but they hate crackers even more. The cops hate them as well.

Also, there’s a small risk that you could end up on the wrong side of a civil suit if you are not careful with such activity; on occasion, when a spammer becomes the target of intemperate threats and attacks, he will use these as a means to take an opponent to court, presenting himself as an “honest businessman” under savage attack by internet kooks. These cases seldom stand, but while they are in progress they do require the sued party to expend his time and money in his own defense. This is an excellent reason never to make public threats against particular spammers. See the next rule!

I get asked about certain “proactive” spam-fighting tools; most of these claim to work by pelting a spam website with megabytes of spurious traffic in order to (supposedly) run up the spammer’s hosting bill or clog up his backbone connection so as to elbow out the suckers. Other such tools will find spammers’ web forms (e.g., for mortgage spammers) and repeatedly fill them with garbage entries to give the spammers headaches.

I personally do not and would not use such tools, for several reasons:
• First, not all spammers are paying per-bandwidth charges for their hosting (at least not if they do it right). Instead, they may be stealing bandwidth from unknowing providers or their customers, so such attacks do not hurt them much (if at all).
• Second, this sort of tactic could also choke out innocent websites that are sharing network resources (IP address blocks, routers, or even servers) with the spammer, and these “collaterally-damaged” folks would probably (and rightly) blame me more than they would the spammer.
• Third, many spammers are sophisticated enough to block or evade such attacks and to “blacklist” the addresses from which they come. Ultimately, then, these tactics may be little more than pointless harassment.
• Fourth, many spammers are far more network-savvy than I, and would probably be able to track me down and file complaints (or even lawsuits) over my behaviour, even if I tried to disguise my actions behind anonymous addresses, temporary shell accounts, proxy web clients, etc. Given a bad day in court, they’d likely come off as poor, besieged entrepreneurs, while I would end up looking like a vindictive kook.
• Finally, I simply would rather not engage in the kinds of abusive behaviour for which I condemn many spammers.

DON’T get emotionally involved in spam
Most minor annoyances we encounter in life don’t deserve to be fussed over. When weeds appear in your garden or your lawn, you don’t get vindictive about it, you just pull them or kill them. When your car gets dirty, you don’t shake your fist at the heavens, you just wash it. For many people, however, spam seems to evoke visceral, reflexive, and ultimately unproductive anger.
When they finally get fed up with spam, some folks get really fed up and go off on a tear. They file all manner of complaints (sometimes improperly directed) and become livid when these do not achieve immediate results.

They make wild, uninformed, and highly-speculative accusations against everyone from Google to Microsoft to the Trilateral Commission. They often think up “new” techniques for fighting spam that are impractical, unsalable, poorly targeted, ineffective, or inappropriate, and they get very angry and even more suspicious when experienced hands point out the shortcomings of these measures. Invariably, in the last stages of their madness, many of these people burn out and give up the struggle, concluding that no one else cares about their efforts or is doing anything about the problem. This is unfortunate, because bringing spam under some sort of control will require consistent, careful, and patient effort by as many of us as can manage it, for as long as we can manage it.

When dealing with spam, then, you should adopt a dispassionate, businesslike attitude. It looks as though spam is going to be with us for the foreseeable future, so you might as well not burn up a main bearing over it. Report your spam if you can, filter it or delete it in any case, and then move on to the next life-problem.

DON’T post your e-mail address “in the clear” on websites or Usenet.
Spammers get many of their target addresses by harvesting or “scraping” them from websites or from usenet postings and public (web-accessible) mailing list archives or bulletin boards. If you use any of these, make sure you protect your address by disguising it or by providing alternative means of reply.

Consider using free “throwaway” addresses for publicly-archived mailing lists, web discussion boards, usenet groups, or other venues that may be accessible for spam harvesting.

DON’T give out your e-mail address indiscriminately
Often, you’re asked by strangers to provide your address as a condition for various kinds of services (like online greeting cards, web bulletin boards,etc.). You should weigh this request very carefully, since you can seldom be sure what will be done with your address afterward (even if the requester swears that he won’t use it for spam or give it to others).
If you like, you can give a phony e-mail address on such occasions (assuming you don’t expect or want to hear back from them), or you can create a “throwaway” address (at yahoo, Hotmail, etc.), or an alias address, just for such use — if spam comes in to this addresses afterward, you can simply shut it down.

DON’T open spam messages you don’t intend to analyze or report
As you can read elsewhere, spammers can sometimes set traps for the unwary. They can force web pages to “pop up” unbidden by you, or they can secretly confirm the availability of your address for more spam. All of this can happen when you do as little as open the message or bring it into view with your mail program. In extreme cases, spammers can implant software that will spy on your network activities or even turn your computer into a spam relay.

Unless you use a net-based filtering service to detect and hold your spam (so you can examine the message’s contents beore it reaches your computer), you can’t tell beforehand whether opening a message will cause any of this to happen. Therefore, if you know for sure that a message is spam, and unless you’re interested in examining it or reporting it (at the risk of having all of the little tricks work), drag it immediately to the trash WITHOUT opening it.

DO trace and report spam e-mails to the providers involved.
The best way for individuals to fight spam is to report it to the providers whose resources were used to transmit it. This includes those responsible for mail servers that sent the spam, but it also includes those who host websites advertised in the spam, or otherwise used by the spammer (e.g., for remove lists). If a provider receives enough complaints about one of his customers, he’ll eventually take action against that customer, or may take other steps to reduce the volume of spam passing through his servers (e.g., by buttoning down open relay hosts, or blocking or mopping up zombie computers).

Reporting spam requires that you analyze it to trace its origin (which is almost never the “from” address that you see onscreen). Then, you look up the proper e-mail address for reporting spam or abuse originating from that point. The process is not terribly difficult after a bit of practice, but you can also find automated alternatives if you want them.

Of course, many providers don’t seem to care about your complaints. I’d say that, as long as it won’t end up getting you more spam (due to “know-nothing” ISPs handing your complaints over to the spammer), it never hurts to complain; if nothing else, this will give them a taste of what it’s like to receive hundreds of unwanted e-mails. And, eventually, their practices will catch up with them when they end up on some block list or other.

DO review privacy policies of websites and online businesses with which you have dealings

When legitimate firms ask for your e-mail address, they’ll generally tell you why they want it; or else, they’ll point you to a comprehensive privacy policy that they’ve posted. It never hurts to review this policy to see what they say they will (and won’t) do with your address or other information you provide. Look particularly for any language about providing your information to third parties.

Of course, anyone can post a privacy policy and then proceed to break it, and often company A can buy out company B and then proceed to weaken or abandon the original company-B privacy policy, but few firms who respect your privacy and want your continued interest and business would find it prudent to do so.

More and more, we’re getting asked for our addresses by people with whom we interact personally, such as store cashiers or telephone sales people. The same cautions apply for these “offline” requests for e-mail addresses.

DO check all those “don’t send me mail” boxes on web forms
Whenever you are asked to register online for some product or service, look the form over carefully for checkboxes or buttons asking for permission to send you marketing materials. You may choose to accept e-mail from the company itself if you like, but you should certainly stop any mail from “our affiliates,” or “certain outside companies,” or other third parties. Otherwise, it’s just too easy for your address to fall into the hands of a spammer who can then make a tenuous claim that you “opted in.”

Read carefully, as these questions are sometimes phrased in the opposite fashion (e.g., “check here to NOT receive mail from any bum off the street who buys our customer list”).

DO tighten up the security of your mail program
Ideally, a mail program would permit you to make the following security settings:
• Not to load images automatically from remote servers.
o Image links in spam messages can often conceal “web bugs” that can signal back to the sender that you have received and opened the message, and are thus a ripe target for yet more of his spam. Many spams have graphic images embedded directly in the mail packet; these do not require extra network activity and thus are “safe” insofar as web-bugging or other clandestine network activity is concerned.
• Not to run embedded JavaScripts or other executable code automatically.
o Even given the relatively limited scope of JavaScripts, it is not a good idea to allow spammers’ scripts free rein on your computer. The same goes in spades for executable code (i.e., .exe files, VBscripts, or executables disguised as other types of files (like images)).
• Not to start up other programs (like web browsers) automatically.
o Allowing spam messages to “shell out” to other programs on your computer is a very dangerous proposition indeed. Spammers can use this sort of thing to destroy your computer or steal your files, but most often they use it to subvert your computer to do their spam work for them.
• Not to launch attached files automatically, or even not to launch them at all (requiring you instead to explicitly save them and then launch them on your own).
o Spammers often try to trick you into opening attachments to their mailings by claiming that these are games, greeting cards, or naked pictures of the latest Pop Tart. You'll find that these files are not what they claim; in fact, they are malware that can damage your computer or turn it into a spam proxy. Good mail programs will often sternly warn you before allowing you to launch such attachments yourself, and will certainly not run them automatically in any case.
• To block, or request confirmation of, any network activity other than picking up your mail from your known mailboxes, or sending your outgoing mail.
o Sending and receiving e-mail occurs on specific IP ports. If your mail program is doing any other kind of network activity while you are viewing spam mail (such as fetching pictures or stylesheets, loading web pages from remote servers), this activity must be regarded as very supicious indeed.
You should study the documentation for your own mail program to find out how many of these settings you can make. These will help to protect you from web-bugs, popups, and other spammer tricks. Unfortunately, I can’t be of much assistance here, since I don’t know much about most of the mail clients available today (particularly those for Windows).
If you find that your big-name browser mail program is deficient in one or more of these areas, consider shopping for a freeware or shareware alternative that caters more to the spam-averse (Mozilla Thunderbird is a popular choice these days).

Last but most important ...

DON’T trade with spammers
If you do nothing else about spam, you should surely follow this very important rule for your own sake as well as for the rest of us who suffer with the pestilence of spam: DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH SPAMMERS!
The basic message is this: by trading with spammers you will (1) expose yourself to all manner of cheaters, swindlers, and criminals, and (2) help make spam profitable, thereby perpetuating it.

If it appears too good to be true well guess what ! it always is.

Spammers are criminals! They are not misguided people.
oops ---> The source of this document was not copied over go to -- Rick Conner 's web site This site also has other interesting spam information.
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