Even before the pandemic, online shopping scams aren’t a new thing. It has been going on for quite some time now. It happens on different eCommerce platforms like eBay, Facebook’s Marketplace, and Mercari.
But since the pandemic took place, online shopping scamming incidents rose because some folks want to make a quick buck at someone else’s expense. While there are a lot of reputable and honest sellers out there, these scammers have left consumers wary to the point of paranoia when it comes to online shopping.
This is quite unfair for those who are in the market doing what they can to help make ends meet and selling authentic wares that people want and need at this time. From essential items needed for survival to special interest items such as high-quality amber light bars for trucks, indoor decorative plants, comic books and toys, and other things that aren’t as important but helped people manage their stress and anxiety at this time, they can all be found online.
The thing that every consumer should know at this time is that there are far more legitimate and decent sellers than lowlife scumbag scammers. They just have to know how to avoid con artists online.
7 Tips to Help You Detect and Avoid Online Shopping Scams
Here are some practical tips that can help you detect and avoid shopping scams online:
Tip #1: Check the seller’s identity
There are several different ways of checking a seller’s identity. Go through the website’s contact details and verify that it contains the company name, physical address, email address, and phone number. Take note of the site’s appearance and how professional-looking it is. You can usually tell when a site isn’t an official or legitimate site just by looking at the resolution of the pictures, the copywriting, and the graphic elements.
When shopping on social media, go through the seller’s profile to see if it’s a legitimate account or a bogus one specially made for “selling.”
Tip #2: Take time to look at shop, product, and performance reviews
One of the first things you need to look for to gauge how reliable and trustworthy a seller is are the reviews and ratings. When you see an item you like, don’t add it to your cart just yet. Take time to go over the site reviews, seller ratings, customer satisfaction level, and product evaluations. Make it a habit to always check the feedback section first before pulling the trigger.
Tip #3: Do not divulge sensitive information unless necessary
Any information that has nothing to do with the sales, such as your social security number, should never be given out. The only things that are typically needed in online transactions are your name, shipping information, contact numbers, and depending on the mode of payment, your credit card details.
Tip #4: Ask the seller for proof that the product is on-hand
One thing you need to be wary about as an online consumer is that scammers typically grab product pictures from other sites. If you see a site with a low-res image of the products they’re selling, chances are, the images are stolen from other sites. That being said, always ask for proof that the items they are selling are on-hand. Have the seller send you a tagged pic of the item with their name on it and the date of inquiry.
Tip #5: Make sure your payments are secure
This is where you need to really exercise wisdom and discernment. The payment is the step that either seals the deal as a consumer or seals your fate as a victim. Use your credit card details with caution and do not store these on eCommerce sites. You don’t want the wrong people getting ahold of your details if the site is breached.
Also, when using Paypal, make sure you only pay using Goods and Services. This gives you an added layer of protection in case something goes wrong.
Tip #6: Make purchases on trusted and secure websites
Never ever make any purchases on websites that do not have Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL, encryption. Simple indicators are the padlock icon in the address bar and the letters “https” appearing on the address bar on the payment page. On that note, make sure that the company name appears on the address and is spelled correctly. A lot of phishers and scammers appear legit just because their sites have “https” on the address bar, but don’t be fooled.
Tip #7: Regularly check your statements for any fraudulent charges
Make it a habit to regularly check your credit card or bank statements. Don’t wait for the physical bill to arrive at your doorstep. You can check them online to see if any bogus or fraudulent charges were made on your purchase. If you see something fishy, get in touch with your bank immediately.
Times are hard now. Don’t fall victim to online scammers and waste your hard-earned money. Know how to spot a scam from the lot and stay as far away from them as you can. Be wise and discerning.