Online shopping is so convenient, so easy. Rather than spending hours trailing around stores looking for something that never seems to be in stock, a quick search on your phone can save time, stress, and effort. We all love the ease of it.
However, online shopping can leave us vulnerable to scams. Not everyone knows how to shop securely on the internet. So, here are ways you can spot online shopping scams so you can keep your finances safer this shopping season.
1. Is the offer too good to be true?
Scammers often lure us in by offering deals that are too tempting to turn down. Targeting the bargain-hungry shopper, they offer ridiculously low prices or discounts. Ever seen pop-ups or ads that offer 50% off or cashback that seems too good to be true? That’s because it probably is. If the price, availability, or delivery time all look too good, you should practice caution.
Look up reviews of the website or retailer before clicking on the link to see if anyone else has used this offer and whether it is legitimate.
How to Get Money Back After Being Scammed Online?
Contact your bank immediately. Most banks offer some sort of reimbursement or compensation if you report the scam straight away. There are Federal Laws to protect consumers; however, you need to act fast.
Using credit cards or PayPal to complete transactions often makes it easier to get your money back than using a debit card.
It is sensible to keep an eye on your bank accounts at all times. You should report any unauthorized transactions quickly.
2. Browse Before Buying
We all know that you should shop around to get the best deal. However, you should also make it a habit to browse the website and ensure it is secure before handing over your money. To make sure a site is safe and secure, look for the little lock symbol to the left of the address bar. This usually means that you’re safe to input bank details.
Plus, check that the web address begins with “HTTPS.” Sites that start with “HTTP” and no “S” are unsafe and should be avoided. To stay on the safe side, only shop with reputably online stores that you know and trust.
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3. Copycat Deals and Sites
Copycats are fraudulent companies designed to look like another well-known brand and trick consumers into buying from their site rather than the genuine one. These sites are often shared via social media and email, so be wary of any links through these platforms. Make sure to look at the URL closely to ensure you are with the proper retailer.
Fake companies tend to have a URL that is very close to the real thing.
How to Report Online Scammer
If you’re the victim of an online scammer, you need to gather all the relevant and essential information to get your report underway as quickly as possible. Make sure you have emails, receipts, phone numbers, and the URL.
You should report internet fraud to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which will forward the details to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement. You should also file a report with your debit or credit card provider. All banks will have details on their websites or in their branches of how to report the scam.
4. Counterfeit Shopping Apps
Counterfeit shopping apps tend to look professional and genuine; however, you can spot them by going to the source. Go to the retailer’s website and look for the link to their app through their website.
Also, only download from reputable app stores, such as Google Play and the Apple Store. For the most part, apps from Google and Apple are safe, but some can sneak through their protective measures. You can see the publisher’s name in the description to check whether it is a legitimate app.
Plus, fake apps often have branding that, while similar to the official retailer, might be off. Also, look out for typos and poor grammar.
How Do You Know If an Online Store Is Legit?
Make sure the online store’s website has SSL/TLS certificates. Click on the little padlock and select “certificate” or “more information” on some browsers to view these certificates.
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5. Don't Always Trust Social Media Adverts
Scammers often create fake Facebook or other social media accounts and use the integrated advertising platform to pay to have their scam inserted into your feed. Watch out for brands you are unfamiliar with or new accounts that are sharing links to deals.
Tips to spot a social media scam:
- Is it the real deal? Search for the promotion elsewhere to see if it’s legitimate.
- Check the URL for anything suspicious.
- Check your timeline if it’s a link that’s highly posted about.
- Check the branding—is it consistent and professional?
Typical social media scams often play on the idea of a “quick-fix,” such as slimming pills or gym equipment. Also, be wary of clearance sales and significant discounts. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
6. Search Engine Scam Adverts
When you use a search engine to search for a product or retailer, Google and Bing list adverts at the top that can be paid for by anyone. These results appear at the top and say ‘Ad’ next to it.
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7. Avoid Bank Transfer
Bank transfer is usually only requested by dodgy and un-reputable sites. Never pay for anything online by bank transfer. Using a credit or debit card usually gives you the right to reclaim some of your money.
It’s not too challenging to stay wary of online scams. While you don’t need to become paranoid, practicing caution is never a bad thing. Ensure always to check the URL, research ridiculously good deals ahead of clicking on any link, and make an online shopping frauds complaint should you be scammed.