Despite Precautions, Net Fraud Up
On the whole, Thomas Ho's near-loss of about $500 in a Web scam last year has made him a bit more cautious about future online purchases.
Like thousands of bargain hunters, Ho was caught off guard by the demise of CyberRebate.com, a site that offered rebates of up to 100 percent for customers who bought products at marked-up prices. When the site abruptly closed in May 2001, customers were left awaiting refunds for millions of dollars' worth of purchases.
For Ho, a professor of computer science and e-commerce at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the experience provided a valuable lesson.
"It made me a whole lot smarter about checking up on what's going on," said Ho, who has subsequently recovered his CyberRebate losses through his credit card company. Nowadays, he is more vigilant about investigating the reputation and business model of sites he patronizes.
Nonetheless, Ho says, the experience hasn't stopped him from shopping online. Although he's aware of the risks, he also believes that buying over the Internet "is probably no more dangerous than giving your credit card to the waiter in the restaurant."
So long as you're dealing with a reputable company, that is.
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