Beware of Internet Risks

The Internet is changing the way we save, borrow and invest. The vast amount of financial information on the Internet can be troublesome. Finding the right information, making sure it is accurate and from a trustworthy source are critical.

Reliability of Financial "Advice"

The "open" nature of the Internet makes it easy for con artists to promote their "get rich quick" ideas. Be especially wary of investment chat rooms and bulletin boards. A tip might be a promoter's attempt to push up a stock price, just to unload their shares.

Rules to remember:

  • When something sounds too good to be true, it may not be true.
  • Be wary of unfamiliar companies offering investments.
  • Be wary of hype. You may not know who is saying what and why.
  • Check out sources of information that seem suspicious.

The Privacy of Personal Information

The technology used throughout the "Internet process" also gives rise to concerns over the privacy and use of personal information you may disclose when visiting different web sites.

Many web sites ask for personal information, such as age, name, e-mail address and more. In some cases, that information is sold to others so they can direct promotional efforts toward you over the Internet or through the mail. In some cases, those additional promotions may be of use. You may get special offers for products and services you are interested in. But in some cases, it may just result in further junk e-mail.

One way to understand how different web sites treat this type of information is to look for a posted privacy policy. Most companies with major a Internet presence have policies that describe how they may or may not use any personal information they may obtain.

The issue of personal privacy on the Internet will probably become more visible as more people use this communication tool. Congress is considering legislation that would regulate financial sites. Probably, the most important thing you can do is to be aware of the policies of the sites you visit most often.

The Security of Internet Transactions

Most of the publicized Internet hacking has caused problems for the web site companies. The hackers have tried to overload the system, not perform illegal transactions. Most sites that offer purchasing capabilities with a credit card use a password protected system with encryption and high-level security. Since Congress enacted a maximum loss of $50 in the event of unauthorized credit card use, using a credit card has become safer than writing a check.


The Internet is a new communication device that can present some additional risks. But, as with most things, common sense will provide a relatively high level of safety. Here are a few pointers:

  • Don't believe everything you see on the Internet, especially if it is coming from unknown sources.
  • Never give out your passwords or any PIN numbers.
  • Beware of things that sound too good.
  • Most importantly, do business with those individuals and companies you can trust.