Is the Business Legit?
Before you work with a business, see if they're worthy.
Your first stop should be to see if they have a license issued by your city or state. In Washington State, that's at the Department of Licensing.
KnowX: From LexisNexis, provides business background checks, locates assets, investigates property values and more using public records compiled from official data sources.
GuideStar: Information about IRS-registered nonprofit organizations.
CorporationWiki: Search for companies and people; see relationships between companies and executives.
Crunchbase: Free database of tech companies; anyone can add info. Find descriptions, founders , contact info and more.
Find Similar Companies
VentureBeat: If the company is relatively new or tech-related.
SimilarWeb: Doesn't always find an exact match, but it's worth a try.
Who are They?
Learn about the people you're doing business with.
LinkedIn: Of course people write their own profiles, but it's an easy place to start.
Been Verified: Look up public records.
Free Public Records Search Directory: Links to resources by state.
Pipl: people search
White Pages: reverse phone lookup to get name, address, previous addresses; even look up a person's neighbors.
Guidestar: provides good snapshots of organizations even before you need to login.
EO Select Check: from the IRS, provides source info on tax exempt organizations and those who have lost that status.
Is it a Scam?
Check out these sites to avoid being taken.
Craigslist: scam resources
FBI: e-scams and warnings
Federal Trade Commission: how to avoid identity theft and more
National Fraud Information Center
Truth in Advertising: learn if that advertising claim is legit or not
USA.gov: consumer frauds and scams
Clean Up Your Online Act
If you're trying to limit your exposure, take a look:
How to Delete Yourself from the Internet (Seth Rosenblatt, CNET)
Before You Click That Link
Watch out for phishing, which is a way for someone to steal your personal information. It usually involves a link in an email. If you don't recognize the link or it looks suspicious, i.e., it's sent with a generic greeting or none at all, DO NOT CLICK IT.
Phishing emails may look like they're coming from someone you know or a well-known business or organization (even one you use). The links will lead you to a site where you may be asked to provide personal information — such as credit card number, social security number, account number or password. Legitimate websites ask for this information via email.
Use the following site to check suspicious links. If it's a bad link, be sure to mark the email as spam and delete immediately.