5 Tips to Protect Yourself From Online Shopping Scams
Online shopping scams are increasingly common. In fact, in 2019 it was the most common type of scam reported to the Better Business Bureau. It represented almost 1 in 4 complaints. This is no surprise, seeing how much the internet is shaping how we shop.
In this article, we will discuss 5 main tips to avoid online scams. We’ll suggest, for example, that you search the web for public records using reverse lookup tools. This is one great way modern technology has helped with a solution. However, we are confident that you’ll find all our additional tips valuable too.
There are instances where the need to search the web for public records will become crucial. Shopping online is one of those instances. We’ll explain more below.
The internet is an open playground for anyone, including scammers. Fraudsters are notorious for putting up fake websites with false information. The ultimate aim is to lure unsuspecting consumers to make purchases.
So how do you know you can trust the information you see on a website? Well, we suggest you do a reverse phone lookup. Instead of having to physically visit a shop or office for information, you can search for the info online.
A reverse phone lookup is where you run a number through a tool to verify or find out more details. So, if the website has contact details like a phone number, that’s the number you will use to do the lookup. This is a great way to verify if the contact details, website owner, or location of the business matches the website.
It’s an easy and quick way to put your mind at ease. The process avoids false positives by only using fresh data, and does the search in real-time.
It’s so important to check if the website you’re shopping on is secure. In fact, most legitimate online stores go to great lengths to ensure the security of their sites. So if you find that a site doesn’t tick certain checkboxes, you should shop elsewhere.
Here are some of the checkboxes to bear in mind:
Find and read the site’s privacy and security policy.
Look to see if it has a secure payment padlock icon. These are displayed in the web browser window.
Avoid sites that have “HTTP” instead of “HTTPS” in the URL. The “s” in HTTP means that the site is secure and is using a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection. This means your information is encrypted prior to being sent to a server.
Do not provide sensitive personal information on any website.
In addition, take full advantage of your search engine’s security features. Also, make use of your internet browser’s own security tools and install the latest version of your browser. Most web browsers have filters that identify and warn you of potential security threats.
Also Read : MBI Pro Biller Credit Card Statement Online
Credit cards are actually safer to use online than debit cards. When your debit card is used fraudulently, the money is taken out of your account directly. So you feel the loss right away!
If you use a credit card instead, there is time for you to dispute a transaction before you lose any money. The bank typically withholds payment as they investigate the dubious transaction.
You should also regularly review your bank statements, credit card transaction reports, and bank accounts for unusual activity. For example, if you spot unauthorized payments, notify your bank right away. As an extra safeguard, consider subscribing to SMS and email notifications for banking transactions.
It’s often convenient to store bank card information with a website you frequent. This way you don’t have to keep re-entering data every time you make a purchase. However legitimate a site may in fact be, this is actually risky behavior.
So many large companies have fallen prey to data breaches. Consequently, their customers’ credit card information has been stolen. Try to avoid storing your credit card information online.
It’s quite uncanny how realistic fake websites can look like. Fraudsters use savvy looking designs, layout, and sometimes stolen logos to deceive the innocent. They even go as far as to register real-looking “.com” URLs.
Watch out if a website asks for wire transfers, pre-loaded money cards, or money orders. These methods are preferred by scammers and are difficult to track down. Most victims never get their money back.
Another red flag is incorrect URL spellings. Phishers often set up sites almost identical to the ones you frequent. The spelling of the URLs would be near identical. This is all in the hope that you fall for their deception and make a payment with them.
Scammers also set up fly by night online stores on social media. They typically sell fake jewelry or branded clothing. The stores then disappear after they make a hit of sales. Have your antenna up if a social media store is brand new. Also, do your research and find reviews before making any purchases.
Competing stores typically price similar items around the same price. If there is a drastic difference in pricing it may be that a store is running a promotion or is closing down. However, you should be wary if the discounts are from stores that are not reputable.
Fake online stores thrive on making attractive deals during promotional events like black Friday. These popular periods are taken advantage of by cybercriminals. They know all too well how feverish consumers are at these times. Don’t fall into their trap.
Discounts or low prices above 55% should be viewed with suspicion. If a product is dirt cheap or has super “amazing” features, it may be reason enough for you to make a run for it.
In conclusion, if you think that you are a victim of online fraud you should immediately change your password for that site. Make sure to change that password wherever else you have used it.
Report it to your bank right away and ask for a card replacement, where relevant. You can also lodge a police report. However, the above tips should protect you from becoming an online fraud magnet. Prevention is always better than cure!
Emily Andrews is the marketing communications specialist at RecordsFinder, an online public records search company. Communications specialist by day and community volunteer at night, she believes in compassion and defending the defenseless.