Identifying online scams is the first step to avoiding a situation where you’re the victim. Off the bat, there are quite a number of known online shopping scams but before getting more into the details, it’s important to understand the nature of an online scam.

What is an Online Scam?

This is something that will test the trust you have in other human beings. It’s being a victim of a crime with the usual 50/50 chance of getting justice. Generally, the ideal situation is that the seller is negotiating in good faith as are you. If it happens that you’ve been duped, misled, or expertly and maliciously been misled to giving money and not getting a fair deal, you’ve been scammed.

It’s a serious situation that is increasing since more people are desperate to “earn money” to the point of committing a crime. The problem with online shopping is the anonymity issue. You don’t know who the other party is unless you make it a point to visit their store or office. Unfortunately that’s not always possible since you might want to buy from someone in a different country. Don’t be discouraged though because through awareness, you can still enjoy online shopping safely and securely.

Most Common Online Shopping Scams

Online Auction Websites – There are many legitimate online auction websites and it’s the few unscrupulous persons who give auction sites a bad reputation. To avoid these fraudulent websites, only pay through recognized payment schemes that can guarantee a refund should the transaction fall apart after payment. You should also have to be wary of fake or counterfeit items being sold; items being sold that don’t match the description, or are overpriced.

Fake Online Businesses – These are websites that purposely appear to be like existing popular sites. Some people do this to fool you into thinking you are buying from your favourite seller and then defraud you by accepting payment and disappearing right after payment has been successfully processed.

Product Scams – These are all over the internet offering weight loss or the proverbial Fountain of Youth formulas that can change your life forever, etc. There are no miraculous cures for HIV/AIDS, cancer, addiction, or obesity. Furthermore, these products may not have been approved by a medicine/drug regulation agency.

Phishing – This usually comes to you as an email offering special deals under the auspices of a known business like a credit card company or bank. It has the logos that link you to the special deals provided you update your account information. The links are fraudulent and will only open your account to a lot of misdeeds. In the first place, no legitimate business, especially in the finance industry, will send you any email request to update your personal and financial information.

To Avoid Being Scammed, Here’s what you should do:

• Buy legitimate and full security software like an anti-virus, anti-malware, firewall, and anti-spyware
• Never use any other computer other than your own for online purchases especially public computers, rentals, or loans
• Never buy from a website whose business you cannot verify as legitimate or without any contact information
• Read the fine print – every word on the order form and question anything that you do not understand. If they hedge or refuse to answer, drop the deal and look for another website
• Products or services that sound “too good to be true” are really too good to be true. Be wary
• Direct deposits or money transfer as forms of payment are a big No-No
• If you used a credit card and you suspect illegal purchases, contact your credit card company immediately to request for a change of credit card number and inform them of your suspicions
• If you can, avoid agreeing to an on-going contract where you are billed automatically. You should request for a formal invoice from the website before processing payment
• Before clicking on the payment button, verify the webpage address and security certificate. You can do this by right-clicking on the padlock symbol.

These are the most important online shopping tips to avoid being scammed but you should bookmark news websites for the latest information on online shopping scams to stay informed.

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