How to spot an online shopping scam

Fraudsters have exploited the convenience and security we feel when we shop online.  The web makes it so easy for us to bank online, shop online, and connect with friends online, but it also makes it easy for cybercriminals to target innocent users. Fortunately, we can protect ourselves by becoming aware of certain scams and taking steps to protect ourselves.

The first step is knowing how to spot a possible scam. There are many clues you can look for. Some are hidden within the actual website design, while others sadly show up during payment or when you don’t receive the goods you paid for.

So, before you begin that well-deserved online shopping spree, keep an eye out for these signs.

Look out for…

No 'S' in 'Https'

This means that the website is not secured. This means that any communication (sharing of personal information, choices made on the website, and passwords) are not private and instead are vulnerable to outsiders. It's best to avoid these sites. On the other hand, web addresses starting with https are secured and your communication is private.

Vague refund policy

You should be able to return an item for a full refund. Reputable websites allow customers to return or exchange items and they have a full policy available online that protects the customer and the brand. Always read this before making a purchase and, if you can't find a policy that covers this aspect, then rather avoid using this particular website.

Poor reviews

It's worth researching the store before you create an account. All it takes is a simple Google search of the store to find user reviews and ratings. Rather go with a store that is trusted by many. When reading reviews, pay attention to comments on the site's payment reliability, customers' experience when returning goods, and if the store management actually responds to these reviews.

Too-good-to-be-true offers

You know the saying, if it's too good to be true, it probably is! Sadly, the same applies to shopping online. Low, low prices and steep offers are used to trap vulnerable shoppers into sharing their personal details and making a payment. More often than not, these are actually fake offers with no real product in return for the money paid.

How to shop safely online

  • Stick to well-known online shopping sites and apps.
  • Create a strong password consisting of capital and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Read the terms and conditions and return policy before purchasing.
  • Check the website before you register – look out for spelling mistakes and a secured URL.

Please feel free to contact us or your bank if you're a victim of a scam.

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