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Genealogy Scams and how to avoid them.................


The Internet has let genealogy out of the bottle, with the potential to be either an answered wish or a possible curse for those investigating family histories.

Although the Internet does provide a virtual forum for seemingly endless genealogical resources, anyone from the hobbyist to the professional should be prepared to filter out dubious information or scams that exploit the Wild West environment of cyberspace.

Before you start digging for your family roots online, check out the following guidelines to help spot and avoid common genealogy scams.

4 Common Genealogy Scams:

1.Misleading software and services. Some genealogical software products and online services can be misleading about what they actually provide, such as compiled surname and family tree data. In most cases this information is freely available on the Internet. It could be argued that these products and services do some of the work for you, but it's a good idea to check out free sources including Cyndi's List, RootsWeb, and Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter before you reach for a credit card.

2.The old phony inheritance ploy. This scam is designed to separate would-be rightful heirs from their money through bogus processing costs. Here's how it works: You are informed that unclaimed inheritance connected to your family must be settled, and details on how to claim the inheritance will be sent to you—after you pay various service fees to the informer to handle the lost estate, which never existed to begin with. The infamous Baker Hoax is a classic example of this scam.

              Learn more about other scams like this by reading Don't be fooled by that easy money e-mail hoax.

3. The complete family history of [your surname here]! Perhaps you've seen one of these advertisements, offering a one-of-a-kind book about your family history, sometimes going back several centuries. In reality, these books are often mass-produced, glorified phone directories that associate your surname with a list of randomly selected names, accompanied by a brief generic history unrelated to your actual family. Better bet: Stick to doing the research yourself.

4.Bad genealogists. Although certifications are available from private sources, genealogists are unregulated and do not require an official license. Anyone can legally claim to be one. Genealogical data is easy to fake, and con artists have taken advantage of this. Those seeking a genealogist should rely on verifiable references or a legitimate third party such as the Association of Professional Genealogists. And, keep in mind the genealogist's maxim: without proof, there is no truth.         
Article: Smarter Genealogy
pub. Nov.2004







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