9 Insightful Tips to Avoid Online Shopping Scams
Losing your hard-earned cash to online fraudsters is a quite a scary thing to encounter or even think about. There is no doubt that online shopping has numerous benefits for both the shoppers and sellers. However, it’s unfortunate that thousands of unsuspecting online shoppers lose their money by falling for scams set by online fraudsters. As an online shopper, it’s now more important than ever to be vigilant and safeguard your online shopping routine from these online crooks and scammers seeking to make a quick buck from you.
Here are nine ingenious ways to detect and handle real or suspected cases of online scams:
1. Do a thorough research and always shop on reliable sites
Online shopping websites with suspicious features such as the lack of customer reviews, low traffic, and numerous negative reviews and comments should be avoided. Generally, it’s more secure to make purchases from well-established online retailers. Don’t be tempted to buy from a less known or unknown site even if such a site offers seemingly similar low-priced product offers.
Additionally, it is advisable to go through consumer reviews and badges from customer protection agencies, as they help in gauging the authenticity of the site you’re about to buy from. Other fishy things to check out for include complaints on products, poor after-sales service, unauthorized credit card charges, and delivery time complaints. It’s arguably true that some reviews may be from whiny consumers, but if there are too many of these, then there is a reason not to buy.
2. If the deal is too good, think twice!
Most too good to be true offers are most probably not true.
For instance, if a health drug sold online is being touted as being a perfect and rapid-working treatment solution, but it’s being sold at a ridiculously low price, then it is highly likely that the drug is generic, expired drug, or fake.
3. Reach out to the seller
It is always advisable to reach out to the seller, and follow up on your transaction if there is anything wrong about it.
Sometimes, the mistakes that occur in transactions are genuine common mistakes and not scams. In such cases, the seller may be willing to take a remedial action to ensure that you get value for your money. You can get the contacts of a seller from their site. If you can’t obtain the seller’s contacts or you can’t reach the seller through the provided contacts, then you should try using online service providers to get reverse phone lookup help. Such services enable you to find more details about your seller such as their e-mail address, location, alternative phone numbers, or even their past criminal records. If you reach out to the seller and you can’t get the issue solved you should consider calling the police and reporting the issue.
4. Contact your credit card company or bank at the first sign of a scam
Prompt reporting of suspected cases of fraud may allow your credit card company or issuing banks to stop the processing of any transactions linked to your credit card, and this could prevent you from losing your money.
If your credit issuer provides a unique credit number that you should use on certain sites, it would be prudent to use it. This ensures that even if a scammer gets your credit card information, they can never use it in any way. You should also make regular checks on your credit card statements to determine whether there are any unauthorized or unusual charges, and if there is any, report them immediately.
5. Let your personal information be personal
Never give out your personal details to anyone.
There is no genuine online shopping site that will request for your personal information such as your social security number, passwords, or your mother’s maiden name. If you encounter such requests you should steer clear of such sites. As a matter of caution, you should be wary of survey sites that ask for too many personal details.
6. Don’t buy from unsecured sites
When making an online purchase, you have to enter some sensitive financial information relating to your credit card, and no matter how secure a site is, sometimes such processes may expose you to some element of risk.
As such, it’s important to take a few precautionary measures to minimize the risk in such processes. Firstly, secure sites are less likely to give away your information to prying eyes. The fastest way to determine whether a site is secure is by checking whether its URL starts with an ‘https’. All uniform resource locators (URLs) starting without the ‘https’ are insecure, and they should be avoided. The ‘S’ in the ‘https’ is an indicator that the site has an extra layer of SSL (Secure Socket Layer) security.
You could also perform a domain search on a domain search website. An older domain name is a probable indicator of a more reliable site than a new domain. If you find that the site’s domain is new, then there may be a chance that such a site is up for a few days to defraud people and then disappear.
This should be a concern especially when there are other telltale signs of a scam. Checking for security labels such as McAfee and VeriSign is also another way to ensure that you’re shopping from a genuine site. Sites that lack such labels may have a high degree of risk. You should also shop on sites, which process their payments via third parties such as PayPal, MasterCard, or Visa. Be cautious when buying from sites that only take wire transfer or money orders because getting a refund in such cases might not be easy.
7. If you’re defrauded on reliable sites, call their customer relations team
Sometimes, it is possible to get defrauded on relatively reliable sites such as eBay, Ali Express, or Amazon. This often happens when you get wrong product deliveries that don’t match product descriptions. This may be the case of a mistake or a scam, but the advantage in such cases is that these reliable sites are always willing to do their own quality control by taking measures to remedy the situation and avert any similar future occurrences. As such, it’s wise to call their team and seek help.
8. Write down a comprehensive negative review or complaint
Most first-time shoppers often rely on previous consumer reviews to gauge the quality of a product before purchasing it. Therefore, no genuine seller would be willing to risk their reputation because of one disgruntled consumer. You should make your genuine complaint and ask for a refund on your money. But if the seller fails to refund the money, then go ahead and write a comprehensive negative review highlighting what happened. It’s highly likely that a sincere seller will refund you after such a complaint, but insincere ones will not.
Even if you don’t get a refund, you’ll at least be able to save the next prospective clients from becoming prey to the seller. You can extend such negative reviews to social media to fully expose the scammers and curtail their operations.
9. Use strong passwords and different usernames
Using your birth date, surname, or the name of your child, pet, or spouse as a password is not a reliable way to secure your information and access to your accounts. Ensure that your passwords are unique by using a unique combination of letters, special characters, and digits. Also, ensure that the usernames that you use on your different online accounts are not similar. In fact, if possible an occasional change of your passwords and usernames can improve your online security.
How do you see shopping online in our time is not safe. Scammers trade everywhere and online stores are no exception. Do not be fooled, do not pay attention to
“the best price” and similar nonsense. Use only trusted sites.
I hope my advice helped you.
Have a nice shopping!