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Many people use escrow companies to complete transactions without worrying that something will go wrong. An escrow company acts as a neutral third party to a transaction, facilitating the completion of a sale. Unfortunately, some scam artists have begun to take advantage of consumer trust in escrow services, setting up phony online escrow companies. There are, however, some ways a consumer can protect himself from an escrow scam, including being alert for suspicious behaviors and requests and backing out of a transaction if the other party appears to be affiliated with the escrow service. An individual can also check for consumer complaints about an escrow service before he goes through with a transaction.
One of the things a person can do to avoid an escrow scam is stay alert and aware of the potential for this type of trouble. If a seller or buyer seems intent on using a particular escrow service to the exclusion of other reputable options, this can be a warning sign. If a buyer or seller falls for this, an escrow scam artist may get hold of his money or the item that was for sale and never complete the transaction. He may simply steal the item or money and disappear.
It's also important to pay close attention to e-mail and website addresses in an effort to avoid an escrow scam. Often, scam artists provide links to escrow websites that are designed to look just like a well-known escrow service. They may even copy some of another site's content to complete the illusion. In other cases, an escrow scam artist may send the other party in a transaction e-mails that seem to come from a legitimate service. If a party to a transaction notices any of these things, he should back out right away.
A person who wants to avoid an escrow scam may also do well to do a little research before going through with a transaction. He may check for complaints about a particular company with the Better Business Bureau, for example. He may also look into how long the domain name has been registered and to whom. A fairly new domain may be a sign that caution is warranted.
An individual who wants to avoid an escrow scam should also search for an address and phone number on an escrow service's website before going through with a transaction. If there's no physical address or phone number, this may be a red flag. If there is a phone number, an individual may call it to see whether the number goes to voice mail or is answered by a legitimate company representative.