Online Shopping Scams
Everyone loves to get bargains and enjoys life being as convenient as possible. Online shopping can offer both. However, it can also be a double-edged sword due to the number of online shopping scams that have sprung up. Here are several to keep an eye on.
1. Copied Sites
Many name brands’ sites are being copied in order to trick shoppers into buying from them instead of getting the real deal from the genuine site. At best, you might end up with knockoffs from China. At worst, you might have your identity stolen. Knockoffs cost companies almost one trillion dollars a year, so check out the sites you shop at carefully to make sure they are real.
2. Huge Discounts
Sites that offer huge discounts all the time are suspect because brand-name goods should sell for more and these supposed bargains are more than likely either knockoffs, or lures to spend money but no goods will ever be delivered. Go to Google Shopping to compare prices and then shop around until you find the right item. Avoid the bargain basement you get what you pay for.
3. A Bad Website
If you see spelling and grammar errors and the whole site looks like it has been thrown together, this is not a site you should be shopping at.
4. Not a Secure Socket Layer (SSL)
Sites with https:// in front of them have an SSL certificate, which is a higher level of security than a regular website. Most scam sites will not bother to get certified.
5. Suspicious Domain Names
In terms of URLs, the brand name and .com extension are preferred and usually a sign of a legitimate site. However, many new extensions have become available, meaning scammers can use the brand names for a time until they are eventually caught. Extensions such as .net, .us, .info and more are all used to create sites that look like the real ones, but arent.
6. The Site Was Just Created
Search for the URL at https://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp and check the creation date. If it is recent, chances are the site has been started for the express purpose of scamming unsuspecting shoppers.
7. They Dont Accept Credit or Debit Card Payments
Beware of any site that requires you to pay by wire transfer, pre-paid gift cards, bitcoin or other cryptocurrency. These are not secure methods and in most cases, you will not be able to get your money back.
8. They Ask For Too Much Personal Information
No site should ask you for your social security number or other details that could be used to steal your identity.
9. Their Physical Mailing Address Is Not Legitimate
Thanks to Google and MapQuest.com, you can pretty much find any address in the world, see a map of it, and get a Google satellite image of it. If the address does not exist, or the building looks suspicious, dont shop at that site.
10. No Clear Terms for Doing Business with Them
The site should have terms of service and a refund policy. The refund policy should usually be to refund in full within 30 days. Some states, like Florida, give only 20 days. Full details should be provided on how to return the item and get the refund. Beware of charges like credit card transaction fees and restocking fees, which can take a big bite out of your refund.
11. Bad Reviews
Type in the name of the site or the product you are thinking of buying, and then add the word “scam”. Take seriously all the feedback you find before doing business with that site.
12. Delivery Problems on EBay and Amazon Marketplace
Beware of individual sellers who dont send your goods. They have either mixed up their inventory levels, or they are running a scam.