Within the current age of the internet, increased usage and accessibility has made it significantly easier for scammers to commit online shopping fraud. This can be attributed to the anonymity that internet users can take on and the implementation of digital payment methods.
According to We Are Social, there are now more than 4 billion people worldwide using the internet in 2018. With over half of the world’s population online, cyber-crimes are increasing at a rapid rate. It’s more important than ever to protect ourselves against these unfortunate occurrences. We can do so by raising our awareness and learning ways to spot online shopping fraud.
What is Online Shopping Fraud?
Before we jump into our tips on spotting an online scam we are going to define what exactly online shopping fraud is. Essentially, fraud is a form of deception that is considered criminally illegal where a person uses unjust measures to gain something financially or personally. Online shopping fraud is when a person or organization deceives someone through purchases conducted over the internet or through digital payment methods.
There are many forms of online shopping fraud including phishing, identity theft, pagejacking, false e-commerce sites, and more.
Tip #1 – Double Check Who You Are Shopping With
Our biggest tip for avoiding online shopping fraud is to check the legitimacy of every e-commerce website you purchase from. You can use ICANN’s domain search tool, WHOIS. This will give you insight as to who the domain registrant that will help you decide if they are a credible business.
Another way to check if websites are credible is to read through the online customer reviews. Google and Yelp host many reviews for companies. Sift through what customers are saying about their experiences and you’ll typically be able to spot a scam quickly.
The Better Business Bureau is a place that people turn to when reporting fraudulent activities. Look up their BBB rating to see if previous complaints have been made against the company before you buy.
Tip #2 – Be Careful Sharing Sensitive Information
To avoid getting your private information and credit card stolen make sure the connection between you and the website is encrypted. If the site has a registered SSL Certificate and has “https” in from the domain that means that you can input your personal information into the website and it will be safely transferred to the website’s server. To check if a site has an SSL Certificate look for the padlock next to the URL.
Be extremely careful when asked for your Social Security Number. If you are simply purchasing a product then they should not need your social security number. Pay attention to this red flag to avoid identity theft.
Tip #3 – Read The Fine Lines
Tip #4 – Make Sure You Can Contact Them
If you are unsure of the legitimacy of a website after the steps above try contacting them. Head to their contact page and see if you can get through to a real person. If they don’t have a phone number, company email address, or legit physical address listed then you probably shouldn’t buy from them. If you do make it through to an actual person ask them any questions that might be missing from the fine lines on the website to understand more about their process.
Tip #5 – Get a Tracking Number
If everything about the website checks out and you decide to place an order make sure to get a confirmation and tracking number. This will allow you to monitor your package each step of the way to ensure safe arrival.
If you believe you have already been a victim of online shopping fraud we recommend contacting your bank right away to avoid any additional changes to your account and updating your online accounts and passwords. Don’t forget to start using the tips above in the future.
One of our top priorities at OPAS will always be to enhance the online shopping experience of our members, which is why we highly encourage you to implement these steps to stay protected. Only shop with verified stores that you trust and keep your data encrypted and software updated to prevent hackers from compromising your personal information.
We will continue to share content related to avoiding online shopping fraud in the future so stay tuned for more tips and updates. If you don’t already, follow us on Facebook or Twitter to see updated on our latest blog posts along with shopping tips and sale notifications!