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  • Shopping safety tips

    Jeremy Linden

    Shopping is one of the most popular activities in the Second Life® world. Many Residents use Linden dollars (L$) to purchase property, to furnish their own homes or even to enhance the look of their avatars with the latest fashions!

    Most retailers in the Second Life world offer legitimate items for sale, but buyers should beware of some sneaky shopping scams. Linden Lab does not generally get involved in private deals between Residents, so use caution when making purchases. Below are some things to consider before shelling out your precious Linden dollars.

    If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    If someone is offering to sell virtual land or items at a price that is significantly lower than the norm, investigate carefully before making your purchase. While there are bargains to be had in Second Life, some deals are literally too good to be true. Your payment could be taken without the items being delivered.

    When you attempt to pay for an item, you should see a confirmation screen that verifies the identity of the vendor and the object you are about to purchase. When in doubt, right-click on an object to see the listed creator of the item. In many cases, the creator's name will match the retail store or designer name.

    Most retail locations do not have live staff present to help with your transaction. Be careful if someone asks you to pay them directly for the purchase of an item in the store. If you wish to do a land transaction with another Resident, you should do it through the About Land window, which appears when you right-click on the land in the Second Life viewer. You can also buy land directly from Linden Lab through the official Land Portal or Auctions.

    Don't be tricked by an "invisible prim."

    Before you pay Linden dollars to a merchant, make sure you are clicking on the item you intend to pay for. Beware of clever con artists who place an "invisible prim," which is a transparent object, over the legitimate item for sale. This may sound complex, but what it means is that your intended Linden dollar payment is intercepted by someone else! You don't get your item and the seller does not get paid! So before you click "Buy," double-check that the object name in your pop-up confirmation box matches the item that you want to buy. Also, if you're offered "Fastpay!" messages that invite you to speed up your transaction, double-check that payment is going to the avatar you intend.

    Tip: You can see "invisible prims" by selecting View > Highlight Transparent from the menus at the top of the Second Life window (you can also hit Ctrl-Alt-T on your keyboard). This will force into view any "invisible" objects. You can also hover your mouse over the item you want to purchase to see a pop-up "tool tip" that identifies the object's name and owner.

    Avoid "get rich quick" and debit permission scams.

    Beware of offers to "get rich quick," particularly schemes that offer to pay initial investors substantial income with money from new recruits. You may be presented with an offer to participate in what looks like a "pyramid" or "Ponzi" scheme. "Pyramid" and "Ponzi" schemes are illegal in many countries, and most people involved never recoup their initial investment.

    Be skeptical of offers to participate in so-called "investment" schemes that promise suspiciously high rates of return. Use your common sense: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

    Also, be careful with items that ask you for "debit permission" or permission to take funds from your account. If you do say "yes" to debit permission, your Linden dollar account could be depleted. To protect yourself from "debit permission" scams:

    1. Never click the Yes in dialog boxes that appear in the corners of your screen without carefully reading what they're asking for.
    2. Never give debit permissions to a device that was not created by you or someone you trust.
    3. Be suspicious of items that are sent to you unexpectedly by people you do not know.
    4. If you inadvertently grant debit permissions when accepting an item, immediately delete the item and empty it from your trash.

    What do I do if I am unhappy with a purchase or transaction with another Resident?

    We recommend that you directly contact the other Resident to try to resolve your issue. We suggest this approach for any complaints, including rental agreements, that you have about inworld transactions with another Resident. In our experience, most vendors are willing to cooperate to resolve complaints.

    Warning: Linden Lab cannot verify, enforce, certify, examine, uphold, or adjudicate any oath, contract, deal, bargain, or agreement made between Second Life Residents.

    Edited by Jeremy Linden

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