PLEASE BE ADVISED that scams and frauds really exist. (Sorry to break this to you.)
Do things locally, if possible. This way, you can meet the people you're dealing with, inspect the items being offered, visit the institutions, businesses or work-situations you're interested in – that sort of thing. Then you can go have coffee while getting to your handshake.
If there's money involved, settle up with your counterparts in person, so you can take what you've purchased with you.
WHEN THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE:
For starters, be on guard for transactions involving wire transfers and cashier's checks – especially transactions involving people, businesses or organizations far from where you live (and super-especially transactions outside the United States).
Also, please be aware that folks can send fake cashier's checks. The checks clear your bank, but then you will be responsible when the fraud comes to light. This is seriously not fun.
Know as much as you can about what you're getting into. Research organizations, people, businesses, goods, deals. Research prices – and be suspicious of prices far below the norm. Ask your counterparts as many questions as occur to you. Be suspicious if they won't answer. Research some more.
Obtain – and verify – contact data for all your counterparts. Get their telephone number, e-mail address and land address. Call your counterparts at an unappointed time and see if they pick up. Send an e-mail that asks for a reply. If those things don't happen – start sniffing.
Ask for references. Ask your counterparts to provide names, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and/or websites of people and businesses with whom they have worked. Don't be afraid to contact these references and ask pointed questions.
Only make payments through means that protect you. There is, in our opinion, insufficient protection for you with wire transfers, bank transfers and Money Grams, as you usually can not get your money returned to you and you can not track who receives the money. If you must use a money order, think about using the United States Postal Service, as their money orders offer you some protection. Many other money orders offer you no protection. Payment options that include some protection for you include PayPal, credit cards and reputable escrow services.
If something is being sent to you, find out how to track the shipment. Get the name and contact data of the shipper, the shipment's tracking number and instructions how to track the shipment. Then keep yourself informed about the shipment's progress. Alas, there are fraudulent shippers out there, who will tell you that they are tracking a shipment even though the shipment does not exist. Know thy seller's shipper!
THE BIG NO-NO'S:
Never give out your financial information (such as your social security number, bank account numbers, passwords, etc.).
Never accept a cashier's check from outside the USA.
Never accept payment for more than you are due. Never reimburse any overpayments made to you, no matter what the reason: shipping costs, gifts, customs charges, other fees, etc.
Never work with someone who claims to be an intermediary (for example, an agent, lawyer or adviser) for a client, especially someone based outside the USA.
Never reply if you are told that you have won a prize, and never pay for its shipping.
AND THE BIGGEST NO-NO OF ALL:
Never believe someone who claims that Steve's Weave is part of a transaction – we are not! Steve's Weave never endorses, recommends, confirms or guarantees anything. Steve's Weave never helps with payments, security or shipping. Steve's Weave never gets involved with references, financing, financial protection, financial advice or customer satisfaction. Etc.!
Sorry to end on a low note but – VERIFY EVERYTHING!