As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I saw an ad looking for an tutor for English as a Second Language. School-age boy, in town about a month, rate $50/hr. In less than four hours, I determined it was a scam. Crud. That could have been a good job, had it been real.
Fortunately, I was not scammed. Here are some very valuable precautions I took in order to prevent losing a small fortune.
Do not give any information in an email
If your information is available online, like a newspaper classified or yellow pages ad, link to it. Don’t repeat it in the email, even in the signature.
Do an online search for the name or company
Sometimes sites like RipOff Report will have information on scam artists.
Only negotiate terms of the contract after sufficient introductions
I have learned not to discuss rates, hours, or potential study times until suitable and trusted contact has been made, usually by an initial visit.
Only schedule meetings in public places for introductions
If you have responded to an ad looking for services you provide, the advertiser is doing the interview, not you.
Never agree to accept any responsibility for the advertiser
Do not hold merchandise, distribute funds, or accept pre-payment for services yet unrendered. Checks can bounce, leaving any distribution or refunds coming out of your pocket.
Wait an entire day to send a reply via email
Scammers want your info quickly so they can cut ties with you. Really interested posters will be willing to wait for a reply.
Talk about your correspondence
If you share your experiences with your spouse, sibling, parent or friend, something may surface that suggests something fishy.
Check listings in neighboring areas
If the advertiser is searching throughout your whole state, they’re really not looking for a local service.
Look back at the listings the next day
If that listing has been removed, or more like it have been repeated, cease contact. A legitimate lister didn’t like you or your offer, and a scammer just wants as many responses as possible.
Do not give any advertiser the benefit of the doubt
If you doubt, stay out. As the provider, you have the right to refuse service to anyone.
If you have determined it is a scam:
- Call your local non-emergency dispatch
- File at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3.gov)
- Check the online classified service for reporting procedures and other avenues
- Keep records: print the emails, or file them electronically
Block the address from your email account
And really, if by the random off-chance, this had been a legitimate listing, I don’t feel bad for losing the opportunity, nor do I feel bad about the actions I took reporting this as a scam. The innocent should appear less fishy. If nothing else, they should give me a name and phone number so I could call them to discuss things in person. Otherwise, they should explore other avenues to secure services. I’m not being over-reactive. I’m just using my protective senses.