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Financial Education
Online Fraud: Swap Sheet
We've all heard the old adage, "if it seems to good to be true, it probably is." This is particularly useful when applied to online fraud. Use caution and common sense when dealing with individuals online and over the phone--always protect yourself.

When advertising items on Veridian's Swap Sheet, be careful to thoroughly evaluate your potential buyers. If you get an offer for substantially more than your asking price, ask questions to ensure the buyer is truly interested in your item.

One of the most common online scams involving online classifieds is the Check Overpayment Scam. In this type of fraud, a seller is contacted about an online posting and the caller offers to buy the item and pay by check. The buyer comes up with a reason for writing the check for higher than your asking price, and asks you to return the difference after you deposit the check. The problem is, the check is no good, and you are out the entire amount.

According to the FTC, "sellers should ensure that checks and money orders they receive from buyers are legitimate before shipping the goods; they should be suspicious of checks or money orders for amounts that exceed the price of the merchandise. Unlike credit cards or some online payment services, cash equivalents (and wire transfers) cannot be reversed if something goes wrong."

If you think you're being targeted by this type of scam, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).