How to Protect Yourself from Online Shopping Scams

December 06, 2017

Science and Technology have moved society in a direction of upward development. With all these advancements, our lifestyles adapt to these changes. From the first lightbulb to the first computing machine, all the inventions and innovations have affected our lifestyles. The Internet is no exception. Our dependence on the Internet and its role in our lives will continuously grow. From ordering lunch or buying movie tickets to connecting with friends, the Internet offers a wealth of information and abundant possibilities. But with all these cool, fun, and convenient perks, several threats lurk online.


The Internet can be a dark place where virtual thieves steal your passwords, identities, and your hard-earned cash. E-commerce fraud is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to online scams. From credit card fraud to bogus returns, the highest numbers of e-commerce fraud incidents are those against consumers.

E-Commerce Fraud

By 2018, it is estimated that e-commerce fraud-related losses will reach almost $6.4 million. To protect yourself and your finances, you should learn how to spot e-commerce fraud.


Among the most common types of e-commerce scams are credit card fraud, identity theft, chargebacks, and bogus returns. These affect both consumers and merchants. Here are certain warning signs of possible fraud: late-night orders, drop box addresses, express shipping, free/anonymous email services, items placed for sale outside of the country, or expensive orders.


A consumer can protect himself from fraudulent activities by:
- Shopping at secure websites,
- Doing research on the website before placing an order,
- Reading the site’s policies on privacy and security,
- Being mindful of cookies, and
- Never giving out your social security number.


If you are about to make a bid, get to know the auction site, the product, and the seller. Read the terms and service agreement and review feedback left by other buyers about the seller, the auction site, and the products. You should also review the fine print and ensure that the seller has a return policy. Most auctioneers accept PayPal, credit cards, or cashiers’ checks. Nevertheless, the safest method to pay for an item online is through a third-party payment company.


One more thing to look out for is when the seller tells you the item is located in one place and then requests you send the payment to an entirely different location. This should be an obvious indicator that something is not right about the transaction.


Fake Websites

Not everything you see on the Internet is real and reliable. Be cautious of the websites you visit. There are a lot of fake websites that are out there to scam you. These sites resemble legitimate e-commerce websites, with credible-looking logos, pictures, and payment options. 


Here are some tips to ensure a site is not a fake website:
- Ensure the URL code is legitimate,
- If you see that the prices seem to be too low, or offer discounts as high as 60%, these deals might be just too good to be true,
- Review the copyright date and when the domain was created,
- Avoid purchasing items on newer websites.
There are many scammers on the Internet, but consumers and merchants alike can avoid being victimized by paying attention to the details we have mentioned above.


Note the shipping charge when bidding at online auctions

You can find good deals at online auctions. Some sellers’ scheme, however, is to offer a low bid price for the product, but then have a really high shipping price. Calculate the cost of your bid and the shipping charge before bidding on an item.


Online auction sites are highly popular ways of buying and selling both new and second-hand goods. There are, however, risks associated with using auction sites – some of which are different from normal online shopping. Therefore, you need to be mindful of the items you are bidding on, who the seller is, who you are selling to, and you must have a clear payment method.