March 27, 2024

Christmas is still far but the shopping spree has already begun online. In the past years, the shopping season has been anticipating Christmas by weeks in a row. Nowadays, people start buying gifts as soon as Black Friday deals are released and continue taking advantage of discounts up until Christmas eve. However, buyers are not the only ones who profit from the convenience and velocity of online shopping. Scammers are also on the lookout for new victims in this period. Learn how to avoid becoming a victim to an e-commerce holiday scam.

Take Adverts with a Pinch of Salt

Online retailers need to massively advertise their products online. Unlike high-street shops that enjoy the benefit of being visible and luring for passers-by, online shops can’t hope someone will accidentally land on their website and start buying products. To increase their sales, these sellers need to promote their products and they often do this with the help of ads. There are lots of ads out there both on social media platforms and on search engines as the number of online retailers and companies that provide services online has skyrocketed over the past years.

While it is normal to be drawn to an enticing ad that promotes a good-looking product or promises a huge discount, it is recommended to be cautious. Ads can be deceitful, and they can trick you into buying a product that looks and performs below the expectations they nurture.

However, there are even bigger risks. Scammers can lure you to click on an ad that directs you to a fake website or automatically installs viruses or spyware on your computer. You could end up paying for products that never arrive at your door or sharing sensitive personal details with cybercriminals. For these reasons, it is recommended to use a search engine to browse for a product you saw in an ad, rather than clicking on that ad to find out more.

Be Cautious When Choosing the Websites You Buy from

Purchasing products from Amazon or an online store you know to be trustworthy is one thing but buying something from a no-name seller you’ve just seen in and ad is tricky. There are many potential dangers in shopping from untrustworthy websites. One of them is the fact that you share your bank details with that store, and once you do this, you can’t take them back.

Even if the seller does send you the promised products, if their website is new and doesn’t implement the necessary security measures, your personal and bank information may be exposed to cyber-attacks. There is also the risk of not getting the products you pay for if you come across a fake website.

To make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate website, you should check out the company’s details. See if the company is officially registered in your country or elsewhere. Also, check out the website’s terms and conditions, paying particular attention to the refund and return policy. Many fake websites lack a T&C page altogether.

Scrutinize the Website If You’re About to Become a First-Time Buyer

Besides checking out a company’s legal information online, you should also pay attention to their website. A serious and legitimate online store should clearly state the company’s address as well as the contact channels you can use to reach out for help. It should have a privacy policy section as well.

Websites that process payments should be secured and their address should start with HTTPS. Make sure the website you plan on buying products from has all these. Also, keep an eye on the URLs to see if they change if you switch from one page to another, and be wary if you see too many spelling mistakes. Such security upgrades have been made in some big investment companies like BlackRock, Octopus Investments, Bastion Balance and more.

Only Use Official Payment Channels

If you’re buying products from Amazon or eBay, for example, there are specific payment methods you can use, all of which will be listed once you head to checkout. If a seller approaches you through a message and offers an alternative payment option that bypasses the platform’s rules such as cryptocurrency transfers, cancel your order. You are more than likely targeted by a scammer who tries to make you pay for products they never intend to sell.

Good luck buying beautiful gifts for loved ones this year and don’t forget the tips above to make sure your sensitive data and money stay safe!

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