When shopping online, you can browse items wherever you are, compare prices with other stores, and have the items delivered directly to you. Sometimes, your items can arrive on the same day. It’s great when it works well. When online shopping goes wrong, however, it can be anything but convenient.
Getting scammed while shopping online can be frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive. According to Statistica, almost three-quarters of online shoppers lost money to online scams. That means that you or someone you know has almost certainly been a victim of an online shopping scam.
It’s more important than ever to understand how scammers try to part us from our cash. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the advantages of shopping online without suffering at the hands of a fraudster.
Know who you are dealing with
It’s easy to set up an online store or a seller’s account with fake details. Scammers take advantage of the relative anonymity of the internet to create bogus profiles and identities that seem real.
To avoid being scammed, avoid buying from anyone if you’re not convinced that they are really who they say they are. Nuwber’s database can help you verify details – such as a person’s location and profession – so you can find evidence that you are communicating with an authentic store or seller.
Learn to spot scams
Online shopping scammers tend to be indiscriminate targeting potential victims. They often use a scattergun approach to get in front of as many users as possible in the hope that they will trick at least a few.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve received a message or a threat from a scammer. Follow these tips so that you learn to spot them and avoid communication with them.
- tend to use urgency to encourage their victims to act quickly without thinking everything through. If the seller, advert, or store is putting on pressure to act quickly, this kind of sales tactic smells of a scam.
- may display poor spelling and grammar in their emails. Professional businesses check their communications carefully before they go out. If you spot several simple errors, consider this a red flag. If an initial email is well worded but further communications contain dreadful spelling and grammar, consider yourself warned.
- may initiate contact with potential victims via chat services. While legitimate, professional businesses use social media and will engage in chats, they tend not to initiate such communications to sell to people.
- may use an email or website address that mimics that of a legitimate company. For example, watch out for anyone claiming to represent “Micro-soft” instead of “Microsoft” or “TheFacebook” instead of “Facebook.”
Use Secure Socket Layer Technology (SSL)
This tip is simpler than it may sound at first. As a website user, you just need to look for an “S” directly after the “http” of the website address. The S stands for secure. This kind of security is also signified by a padlock symbol in the address bar.
Some online shoppers are scammed when a hacker intercepts emails to redirect a transaction to their personal account. It’s much harder for a hacker to intercept a communication or transaction, however, when the connection is encrypted.
Always look out for https in the URL bar when performing a transaction or entering any personally identifiable details, such as your full name, address, or account details. If you click through to an account creation or payment page and there is no padlock or no https, don’t enter any details. Get out of there.
Contact the seller
To check that the person you are about to buy from is real, it’s a good idea to contact the seller. Whether it’s a store or an individual, communicating with the seller can help put your mind at ease. If you can, try to do so by phone to get an intuitive feel for the person and environment at the other end of the line. If the given contact details turn out to be incorrect or the seller makes you feel like something is wrong, don’t purchase.
Check out the seller’s reviewers
Check out the seller’s reviews for an idea of whether they are responsible, responsive, and reputable. Also investigate the reviewers, particularly if you suspect the reviews are bogus. Note that you can use Nuwber to verify the identity of reviewers as well as sellers. Remember that no service is perfect, so if the reviews are too positive, that may be a red flag.
Use a credit card
When you shop online using a debit card, your money is gone right away. When you use a credit card, however, the money doesn’t come straight out of your checking account. You’ve spent the bank’s money. This means that you normally have more chance of successfully claiming your money back if the shopping experience turns out to be a scam.
Use a virtual card
Some online shopping scams are phishing attempts. The salesperson is really seeking personal details, often card details with which to make fraudulent transactions. If you are concerned about someone using your card details after a transaction, a virtual card may be the answer.
Companies like Wise and Revolut allow their customers to create virtual cards. These can be used for a single transaction. Then the cardholders can freeze or delete them, preventing anyone else from using those card details fraudulently.
Trust your instincts
If you feel like something isn’t right, listen to your gut. You may have picked up on one of the cues mentioned earlier. Or perhaps another tell is giving you bad vibes. Your instincts can play a big part in keeping you safe online.
With more internet users and more criminals around, getting scammed online is becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence. Staying vigilant and using these tips, however, will help you reduce the likelihood of being a victim of an online shopping scam.
Check out your sellers, use secure internet, look out for tell-tale signs of bad actors, and trust your instincts to keep shopping online safely.