The internet has literally changed and greatly improved the way we shop online by leaps and bounds. Today, in 2018, shopping online is easier, faster, and very convenient compared to shopping at local stores and malls. With just a few clicks, you can have your order processed and delivered right at your doorstep.
However, even as we become more and more comfortable with online shopping, experts warn that online shopping does carry a lot or risks.
Online shopping has proven to be a minefield of scams. You essentially order a product from, pay for the product with your credit card or any other payment method, but never really receive the product. There are also numerous cases of counterfeit items being sold online.
Most online shopping scams include credit card fraud, chargebacks, bogus returns, and identity theft.
The bad news is that these scammers are getting smarter day-by-day. But the good news if you know how to easily spot online shopping scams, you can avoid losing your hard-earned cash, identify, and so much more. In this article, we have discussed various tips on how not to become an e-commerce fraud victim, and what to do if you become a victim.
How Not to Become an Online Shopping Scam Victim
1. Check the Website You’re Dealing With – Only Shop at Reputable and Secure Websites
This is where most consumers go wrong.
According to the recent researches,70% of people who find an online website store offering great deals – fail to think twice about purchasing a product, and then find out that their hard-earned cash has gone down the drain.
The truth is, anyone can set up a retailer online store. Scammers will set up fake retailer websites that are made to look almost exactly like legitimate, genuine online stores. They may even use stolen logos and similar website layout and design.
However, if you’re a smart shopper, it’s easy to smell these scammers from afar. The biggest red flag that the online store is probably a scam is unsecured methods of payments. They will ask you to pay either via wire transfer, money order, or a pre-loaded debit card. Because these payment methods are unsecured, it’s highly unlikely that you will get your money back or even receive the item you purchased.
It’s therefore very important to be careful with the website you’re purchasing items from. If it’s not a famous and legitimate online merchant like Amazon, then the website must have a HTTPs header. A HTTPs header allows authorizations and secure transactions, which means that any personal or financial information you provide on a website is secure. Scammers will always avoid adding this extra layer of security.
Also, the website must provide secure payment methods like Credit/Debit Cards or Paypal.
2. Check the Reviews of the Online Website Store on Google
One of the best ways to find out if a business is legit or not is to check their reviews on Google. Google reviews are becoming more and more important as they help consumers figure out if an online website store is legitimate or not.
Unsatisfied customers will leave negative feedback on a website while happy customers will leave positive feedback. And because Google reviews often come from consumers who have actually purchased a product on an online store, you can actually trust that the reviews are genuine.
Any online store with a poor rating or lots of negative feedback is a no-go zone. Only purchase from stores that have garnered good ratings and numerous positive reviews.
3. If the Sale is Tied Up to the Phone, Do a Reverse Number Search
If the purchase you’re making is tied up to a specific phone number, you can perform a reverse number search with Spokeo to find out more about the seller. After running a reverse phone lookup, you will receive a comprehensive report with the sellers personal information like their First and Last name, email address, physical address, social media profiles, and even criminal records or complaint history.
If you’ve been scammed online, you can use the reverse phone lookup report to file a complaint against the seller and this will increase your chances of getting your money back.
4. Pay with Paypal to Ensure Your Money is Safe and Secure
One of the best and most secure online shopping payment methods is the use of Paypal. Unlike some payment methods, Paypal offers a quick, safe, and secure way to shop online. Because their website is secure and encrypted, any payment transaction you make is hidden from prying eyes.
Another major benefit of making online purchases with Paypal is that you can get your money back if scammed. If scammed after buying an item with Paypal, all you have to do is report it within 60 days and the online payment company will carry out an investigation, after which you will be fully refunded.
That way, you are assured that your money is safe and secure.
What To Do If You Become a Victim of Online Shopping Scams
1. Request Money Back
Requesting money back after being scammed online may seem like a tough call but it’s totally worth it. You have the right to ask for your money back. You need to contact the vendor or scammer in writing and request a refund.
All you have to do is state your name, name of the item/items purchased, date/time of purchase, and the method of payment used (avoid giving out your account number). In your email, tell them that you’re willing to escalate the situation with legal action if you don’t get a refund within 24 hours. They’ll probably have no option but issue a refund.
NB: Don’t Beg, even if the amount at stake is large. They might not take you seriously. You need to be stern when making a refund request.
2. If You’ve Made a Purchase Through a Marketplace, File a Complaint
Sometimes, the sellers in popular Marketplaces aren’t genuine and you might find yourself scammed after purchasing a product. If you’ve been scammed on popular market places like Facebook marketplace, Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Bonanza, and others, you simply have to report the scam to that specific marketplace support.
Once you file a complaint, the marketplace Customer Service will find a way to help get the item you purchased or a refund.
3. Call Your Bank or Credit Card Company As Soon as Possible
If you have submitted your credit/debit card or bank financial information to a scammer, call your credit/debit card company or bank immediately. They will put a hold or basically freeze your account to prevent the scammer from making any more charges.
Usually, you might not realize that you’ve been scammed until a few days when you expect to receive the item. Still, it’s important to have your account put on hold to avoid losing more money.
4. Consider Filing a Police Report
Reporting an online shopping scamming case might seem stupid but it’s highly advisable to do so. Don’t be embarrassed about it – someone stole from you, and this is a criminal offence.
It’s advisable to file the report immediately you realized that you’ve been scammed as this will help initiate the investigation much sooner. Furthermore, your credit/debit card company or bank may require a copy of the report.
Remember that filing a police report isn’t enough. You need to take the above mentioned actions to increase your chances of getting your money back.
Wrapping It Up
Scammers are always targeting online shoppers because they are well aware that people looking for great deals won’t hesitate to click on their links. Don’t fall for these scams. Most importantly, always verify the legitimacy of any online website store, and understand that the internet carries a lot of risks, especially when it comes to online shopping.