The ever-increasing popularity of online sales and activities has inevitably led to a corresponding increase in fraud, as criminals seek to get their own slice of the $394 billion spent online every year. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the health and medical sector is a particularly popular target for fraudsters, who look to take advantage of any sign of vulnerability.
Those affected by online fraud can find it just as damaging as being a victim of physical crime. In essence, the fraudster is usually seeking to steal your money, but online fraud can have additional consequences, such as affecting your credit rating and exposing your personal information, leaving victims feeling as violated as those who have suffered from physical housebreaking.
How To Protect Yourself
The range of health and medical frauds is huge, and while you should always keep an eye on known risks and blacklisted offerings, the fact is that there are new ones emerging every day. The following tips can help you to avoid falling victim to the latest scam.
- Trust your instincts – if it feels wrong, or too good to be true, it probably is.
- Check if the product or service has been whitelisted as genuine.
- Look for the name and address of the seller or provider. Is it a real address, linked to a genuine company?
- If purchasing a medical product, are you asked questions or given an online consultation? If not, and the seller just wants to complete the sale, step away.
What if it is Too Late?
If you think you have been a victim of an online scam, you need to act quickly but without panicking.
- Tell your bank or credit card company that you think you have fallen victim to online fraud. They will ensure your account is secure, and might be able to reverse any payments.
- If you have taken any dubious medical products, speak to your doctor for advice.
- Report the incident to be investigated and, if appropriate, to the police.
- Keep all correspondence, receipts and other documentation safely.
Keep Your Eyes Open
The Internet provides a great opportunity to keep up to date with the latest, genuine advances in health and medical products and services. It also provides a way of taking advantage of these at the best possible prices. But always be aware of the risks as well as the benefits of the online world, to keep yourself and your family safe.