Imagine a world where we don’t use the Internet 10+ times a day. Imagine not checking your e-mail every 15 minutes, or never having Facebook, or never having discovered eBay (yeah, neither can we). It’s pretty bleak, right? In all actuality, we’ve become so dependent on the interweb that the thought of ever living without it is mostly impossible. But, that’s OK, because we live in this crazy, online society which gives us so much anyway, and what’s so bad about that?
Nothing if you’re safe. However, that’s not always a top priority for some. The Web can be a pretty awesome place if you use it properly. It can shower us with incredible information (or useless facts), give us a gateway to meet cool people, and even help us find that coveted watch we’ve been looking for.
With any good thing, there’s bound to be some bad, it’s just inevitable. So, for the online savvy user, here are three risks to keep in mind and how you can avoid them by just using a little common sense.
Online dating is becoming more and more common these days, and with good reason. After all, the more we drift towards a virtual society, the more online dating sites we will see. However, no matter how popular online dating is, it’s in your best interest to verify the information your potential suitor gives you.
Can you verify their claims, including where they live, their profession, if they’ve ever been married, if they own any major assets, if they’ve been in trouble with the law, etc.? By finding out this info sooner rather than later, you can not only see if they are telling the truth, but figure out if they are better (or worse) than you imagined.
Purchasing products from people or companies you don’t know
The beauty about the Internet is that we can find things that are almost impossible to get in a real store, either because the product is rare, extremely popular, or totally unique. That is why the Web has attracted so many, but also duped a great majority as well. See, when you purchase a product from someone or a company, you’re putting your trust in them. However, there needs to a base for that trust.
Figuring out if you can trust the organization or individual that you’re purchasing from can be as easy as doing a Google search, to reading reviews, to conducting background searches. Doing all three provides you with the most complete picture and only then should you place your trust, and of course money, in the hands of the dealer.
Selling your stuff
On the flip side, selling your stuff online can be a just as big of a risk as buying. There are tons of factors to consider, particularly what platform you use, who you sell your stuff to, and how transactions are going to pan out.
For example, say you wanted to sell your flatscreen TV. You get a couple offers from some people, one in particular who seems pretty eager. You could just let them come to your house if that’s OK with you. But, for the rest of us, it’s easier to do some thorough research on the person before you bring them into their lives. Even if you’re armed with only a phone number and a name, you can conduct a reverse phone background check, which can verify not only their name, but can also allow you to perform deeper searches.
Bottom line with leading an online life: You don’t have to be paranoid about the people you meet or interact with online, that’s not the point. The real point is to be smart and to go with your gut based on your own personal research. That way, you can you make a sound decision because you’ve assessed any potential issues.
What are some other online risks we need to keep in mind? How can we avoid them?
Heather Huhman is the Community Advisor for BeenVerified and a regular contributor to a number of blogs including the PersonalBrandingBlog and USNews. Connect with Heather and BeenVerified on Facebook and Twitter.