Online Shopping Scams to Watch Out for

Written by Ankit
3 mins, 33 secs Read
Updated On November 22, 2023

With the surge of Covid-19 cases, lots of people from all over the world are forced to go online. The pandemic has dramatically increased consumer reliance on online shopping for everything. The increased popularity of online shopping attracts more cybercriminals who are getting more skilled in their attempts to deceive buyers.

A large percentage of consumer reviews across some sources such as, BBB, or Google Reviews refer to e-commerce frauds. To protect yourself from the hands of cybercriminals, you should obtain the right cybersecurity knowledge and be aware of the required mechanisms.

What are Common Online Shopping Scams?

There exists a great number of tactics that criminals use to obtain money from you. Here is a narrowed list of the most common e-commerce scams going around these days.

1. Fake Websites

Scammers set up fake websites and deceive people to buy from them. They look like genuine ones and are used to steal your banking details or other sensitive information. Fake websites are often purely designed and developed with low-quality images of products and lots of spelling mistakes. Criminals can try to trick you by using similar domain names with extra letters or just abbreviated versions of the real website names.

Cybercriminals also create fake mobile apps and post them to app stores. After uploading they start installing malicious software on your gadget or accessing sensitive data if you log in to your mobile banking.

2. Free Trial Offers

While shopping online you can come across an attractive offer for a free one-month trial of the desired product. You are just required to cover shipping and handling fees. The actual terms are hidden in the fine print that is frequently posted in a lighter color. Lots of buyers don’t read the fine print before selecting the “I agree” checkbox.

Frequently, terms stated in the fine print obligate them to pay much money in fees every month once the 14-day trial period finishes.

3. Discounted Gift Cards

If you purchase a discounted gift card directly from a retailer in a brand store, there is no doubt that it’s legitimate. E-commerce consumers should still be wary of shopping scams involving fake promotions. Fraudsters can be extremely cunning at creating fake gift cards to steal from unsuspecting buyers.

It can be difficult to spot a fake gift card. Requesting lots of information especially banking details should raise a red flag. You’d better defer the email or contact the retailer for further details before purchasing a card.

4. Account Hacking

Staying safe online is getting more and more difficult since con artists become smarter about the ways they use to deceive consumers. They are constantly trying to develop new tools for hacking the retailers’ systems and decrypting their payment information. Major retailers do their best to implement secure safety systems to protect consumers.

If you want to save money and shop wisely, you shouldn’t disregard safety measures as well. To protect your account, use a different password for each account. Never save any sensitive info, and enter all data every time you make an online payment.

5. Phishing Links

Email marketing remains one of the most popular ways retailers use to inform consumers about special offers, new products, and services. Criminals are taking advantage of the increased popularity. They create accounts to publish or send links to phishing web pages in messages.

Phishing links are used to upload malware to your gadget or start script attracts. Anti-spam filters of major email service providers detect phishing letters and block redirecting. Up-to-date anti-virus software can prevent phishing attacks. If you receive an email that looks suspicious, you’d better surf the web to see if anything comes up.

How to Protect Yourself While Shopping Online?

Please check out several tips to protect yourself from online shopping scams:

  • Complete your search to examine the identity of a specific e-retailer. You may look for online reviews to get first-hand opinions from consumers. Major retailers offer a feedback section where users can post their messages and ratings. Alternatively, you may visit review websites to get clear opinions before making a purchase decision.
  • Pay with credit, not debit. If you’re charged for an order you never made, contact your credit card company to dispute the charge. Check the statements regularly.
  • Become familiar with the website privacy policy, return and refund terms, and always keep receipts and copies of correspondence with a seller.
  • Ensure your computer is equipped with the latest antivirus and anti-spam software. Shop only on secure websites with SSL encryption.
  • Never share your pin with anyone. Never respond to emails asking for financial information. Use secure passwords for logins.
  • Choose secure payment mechanisms. Avoid paying via money order or wire transfers.
  • Give preference to recorded delivery since you will get a tracking number and need to sign a delivery confirmation.

What to Do If You Become a Victim of an Online Shopping Scam?

If you get involved in any online shopping scam, you should report the incident to your local police department for investigation. You may also write to the Federal Trade Commission, your state attorney general, or a consumer protection agency and ask for assistance.

If you don’t recognize charges on your credit card statement, you should immediately contact your bank so that they can take all appropriate measures to protect you from fraud.