Lacson: How not to get scammed online

As they say, there is always a first time. Although I am the most cautious and skeptical when it comes to online transactions, I fell victim to an online fraudster. As we wanted to visit Tagaytay in the next few months, I searched for possible accommodations using Facebook, and true to my suspicion, Facebook has its eavesdropping mechanism and suggests sponsored ads in our feed.

I came across this ad promoting condotel accommodation for 10 people with a view of Lake Taal. After asking if said unit is available for the selected dates, I asked how to book the pencil reservation. The person behind the page sent me the bank details and even his celfone number that’s why I didn’t think he was a scammer. Luckily he only asked for a thousand pesos deposit.

After I sent the money by bank transfer, he said he would send me an official confirmation slip, which didn’t happen after two days. Having this instinctive feeling, I worried and followed. With no response and no response from his cell phone number, I have already accepted that I was scammed online. So what lessons can we learn from this experience?

First of all, never trust anyone you’ve only met through online platforms. Sometimes having a very skeptical personality pays off and in times like these when the world of social media is so powerful that it can detect our interests, we have to be very careful in all our conversations and dealings.

Second, be critical. Time and time again I’ve said that if the ad is too good to be true, chances are the offer is a hoax.

Third, transact using legitimate online sites such as Agoda or Trivago for hosting. For online shopping, it’s best to use Shopee or Lazada.

Finally, whenever possible, do not disclose sensitive personal information such as bank details, passwords, credit card numbers and other important information. Also, do not send money right away, especially if the amount requested is too high.

At the end of the day we settled on booking using Agoda.com which I have used many times before and they were very responsive to my requests and other transactions to cancel or rebook.

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