In today’s constantly changing world, life is slowly moving into the digital realm. As goods and services online abound, while convenience increases, it doesn’t come without a price – scams are becoming more rampant alongside this development. With this, we can only advocate giving our online safety equal, if not more consideration as our physical safety.

            One of our staff members here at AHEAD, Geraldine*, recently had an encounter with an online course scam. Even though she did her due diligence by looking through reviews about the online school, she still got victimized in the end. We have to consider that scammers are getting more clever nowadays and have a better grasp of how people would act to protect themselves from scams. Patrons should be wary of red flags and not take them lightly.

The story was that this certain online school offered a free month of courses one-on-one but delivered pre-recorded material instead. They also charged Geraldine two months’ worth of fees in her trial month before she was able to cancel her card and account. When she confronted the company about the issue, they profusely denied the matter and Geraldine was never able to get her money back because the company was based in Europe and there were loopholes in the terms and conditions. In the end, there was not much she could do besides cut her losses and move on.

 We should all learn from this story and be extra wary about enrolling in online courses. Before giving your credit card details, here are a few tips that we would like to impart on you to ensure that your investment is worthwhile and you fully understand what you are paying for.

  • Reviews are good to look at, but they are easy to fake.

It’s prudent to begin looking at customer reviews about the service or product you would like to avail online, but you should not be satisfied with the topmost reviews. Dig deep into the reviews and see if they are more or less consistent all throughout. Check multiple websites for reviews! If possible, go as far as to check if the profiles of reviewers are legitimate and are not just planted or fake. Geraldine looked through the reviews of the online school, but only realized later that she should’ve looked deeper into the list because there were a lot of bad comments buried underneath all the good, dishonest ones at the first few pages.

Asking around in your immediate circle of friends and acquaintances about their thoughts and the information they know about the site or provider would definitely be helpful in deciding whether or not you should push for the purchase or course.

  • Check for the credibility of your provider.

If, like Geraldine, you are looking to enroll in online courses, it would be good to check if the provider is affiliated with a physical institution, preferably one that’s been established for at least a few years. Awards won are not a necessity, but it would be a good consideration, too.

Also looking at the faculty list of the online school would give you an idea of how credible the institution is. This will help you decide if the course is also worth your money and time.

  • Read terms and conditions fully!

Make sure to read the terms and conditions thoroughly because loopholes might be written there. Only click “proceed” once you’ve (honestly!) read through everything. This is part of your due diligence and should be done to ensure your security. Taking a few minutes to read through the whole statement won’t hurt anybody.

                               To wrap it all up, always make sure before you commit to any product or service online! Offers that seem too good to be true usually are, so do your due diligence and protect yourself from the hassle of reeling from being scammed. Stay safe!