Online Shopping – Scamming in The Digital Isles

There’s nothing that influenced the world of commerce quite like online shopping. With the rise of platforms such as Amazon and eBay came the convenience of buying almost anything you want without leaving the comfort of your own home. And while online shopping is typically safe, nothing on the internet is ever 100% safe.

Unfortunately, online purchasing scams are extremely common. Since e-commerce has become so widespread, people don’t often think before they click on the “Buy” button and enter their credit card information. 

But remember that scammers are always lurking and trying to gain your trust, even during an online shopping spree.

Online Scamming Tactics

It’s true that there are currently too many online stores to count and it’s easy to get lost in the sea of merchants. However, knowing how to navigate that never-ending sea and learning to differentiate between legitimate and fraudulent e-commerce websites is a necessity. 

And you can do that if you are aware of some of the different tactics these conmen use.

Fake Websites

One of the most common tactics these types of scammers use is creating fake websites that look legitimate and similar to a website you know and trust, such as Amazon. 

They fill these websites with products that will never be delivered and wait for an unsuspecting victim to enter their credit card information.

Not only do they create fake websites, but they also make harmful apps that, when you download them, inject malware into your device and then steal personal information from it.

Fraudulent Reviews

Most people who shop online rely on reviews to asses whether the seller and product they’re interested in purchasing are legitimate. 

Usually, social proof is a great indication of a safe online purchase, but not always. These reviews can easily be fabricated and are just another tactic to lure victims in.

When you’re looking through reviews, see if there is a pattern to them. Are they all unbelievably, even sometimes unrealistically positive? If you see nothing but glowing reviews and overjoyed customers, it could be a potential red flag.

Phishing Emails

Phishing emails have been a hallmark of scammers for almost as long as email has existed, and phishing is used in so many different forms, including online shopping scams.

You might receive an email claiming to be from a popular online retailer or a shipping company in which you’re asked to provide personal information or click on a link. 

These emails sometimes have fake tracking information for a package you supposedly ordered or an “urgent update” that needs your attention right away.

Scammers use specific language and structures in phishing emails to try to get you to act as soon as possible without thinking too much. But remember to always verify these emails are coming from a trusted source and never click on links or download attachments that seem suspicious.

Suspicious Payment Methods

While some scammers try to steal your credit card information, others take a different approach and just want to steal your money via suspicious payment methods.

If you’re buying something online and are asked to pay for the goods via cryptocurrency, gift cards, or a wire transfer, it’s best to walk away from the purchase. When you send a payment like this, it becomes extremely hard if not impossible to get your money back when you realize you’ve fallen victim to a scam.

Social Media Advertising

Social media has become one of the best places to advertise just about anything, and many legitimate retailers use platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to advertise their products and services. However, scammers do the same thing.

When an ad pops up on social media showing a product you like, it can be nearly impossible to tell whether the ad is from a reputable seller or a scammer. These advertisements often look very tempting, but as soon as you click on them, they will take you to a fake website or a landing page that asks for your personal and financial information upfront.

Red Flags to Look Out For

Even though these scam websites and fraudulent offers seem normal at first, if you keep your eyes peeled, you will be able to differentiate them from those you can trust.

Let’s go through some of the red flags that indicate an online shopping scam:

  • Amazing prices. One of the ways scammers try to lure people in is with amazing prices that are too good to be true. If you run across an item with an extremely low price, it’s most likely a scam. Always remember that quality costs and doesn’t come for cheap.
  • Sense of urgency. Online shopping scammers often try to instill a sense of urgency and apply pressure tactics to their victims, usually in the form of limited-time offers and ticking clocks. 
  • Badly designed websites. When you’re on an e-commerce site, check the website’s quality. If you spot poor design, grammatical errors, and broken links, stay clear. Reputable businesses take pride in their online presence.
  • No transparency. Since online shopping can be risky, websites you can trust such as Amazon are as transparent as can be. You can easily find information on their return policies as well as terms and conditions. However, you won’t find this on scammer websites.

Final Thoughts

The rise of e-commerce has forever changed shopping as we know it, making it more convenient and more accessible than ever. But before you browse through the digital isles and fill up your cart with items, take a minute to consider whether you should be trusting the website you’re shopping on. 

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