The internet is an ever-growing platform and although this brings us closer to one another, it also allows for online shopping scams. As more businesses migrate to the digital marketplace, it becomes even more important to stay informed regarding the mechanics of online shopping scams. There is a dark side to the online world where virtual thieves are only getting smarter.
Online shopping scams rely on the anonymity of the internet to steal from unsuspecting consumers. You’re enticed by steep discounts, unrealistic promises, and low prices. These scams lead you into believing you are scoring with the low cost. You would either not receive their item or the item is a cheap knock-off and nothing like the advertised image. Scarily enough, fraudsters will even go so far as to prey on your private information.
There Are A Few Ways In Which Online Fraudsters Can Trap You
- Offering large discounts, making the actual cost of your purchase seem like it’s minimal. These can also be offered in the form of a gift card/code that you input upon purchase. You fill in your bank details and presto, they have access to your financials.
- Malicious links embedded in emails that promote fake online stores and businesses. You would be enticed by the imagery and the offer and continue to the site. Through this action online thieves may gain access to your personal information and financials saved to your computer. They may also use this as a method to extract ransom from you in return for your information.
- Free online shopping coupons for answering a “quick survey”. In exchange for your personal information and a few answers to irrelevant questions, you’re automatically awarded online shopping coupons where the site doesn’t actually exist, or the coupon is fake. However, they’ve already received your personal information. These surveys are promoted to you, via the sites that you visit often and also seen on social media as the algorithm allows for this kind of consumer targeting.
- Fake online shopping websites that appear legitimate by being redirected to a payment portal where they extract your information. The purchaser will have no way to reach the seller when they do not receive their item.
Protecting Yourself Against Online Shopping Scams
If something seems too good to be true, it most likely is. This is an ideal starting point for becoming more aware. If your usual online retailer is having a massive sale, great! You have used them multiple times and are familiar with their products and services. Be careful of websites mimicking popular retailers though. This is recognizable in their URL and their contact details. If you do feel it’s too good to be true, a simple call via their contact page will clear up any doubt you may have. When you are unable to find contact details or the contact details do not appear to be correct, move away! Scammers will rarely include the official retailer’s details in fear of getting caught out.
If you’re purchasing from an online retailer for the first time and feel any doubt regarding their legitimacy, remember that the internet is massive. There is an answer for everything online and chances are that someone else has already come into contact with this scam. The item you are after will also be available elsewhere on the internet, where you will be able to actually verify the seller. Be wary of websites with poor English and spelling. Websites with excessive negative reviews should deter you straight away. This prevents you from experiencing what others did from the get-go. On a similar front, overly positive reviews created by the seller are easily recognized through language usage and repetitive compliments.
Online retailers will put a lot of capital into building their websites. It is their source of income in a competitive space. If the website appears to be badly set up and not up to scratch, this is a good indication to steer clear of the site. This is the same thing as a store having poor infrastructure on the ground. You would avoid going in because it isn’t appealing. Finally, when attempting to make a purchase, make sure the payment portal indicates a closed padlock in the URL bar and that the address begins with “https”.
Protect your personal information, and be more skeptical of what you see online. The information available to you is endless. Ask questions, do research and be sure that the purchases you make are verifiable on multiple fronts.