‘Tis the season for the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping. While the stores are packed with consumers, cyber-shopping is at an all time high. Shopping in public can have potential to be dangerous with getting your wallet stolen or being robbed when putting the bags in your car. Cyber-shopping has a different kind of danger to be aware of. Be aware and prepared when shopping online.
We are all excited to get the “great deal” when shopping either in the stores or online. Sometimes, though, we need to sit back and determine when a deal is just too good to be true. There are so many sites set up to fraud consumers, I could not list all of them, so I am just going to list some ways these sites go about their scam:
- Copy Sites – Large company websites such as Wal-Mart, Amazon, E-Bay, are easily recognized; however, some of the smaller websites, such as Pandora Jewelry, are not as easy to determine if a site is the correct location for the National company. Websites are set up to resemble these less known company websites, selling similar looking items for cheaper prices. When you order from these sites thinking you are getting the real thing, you are sent a cheap knock off that is not worth the money you spent.
How to avoid it? Ensure you are shopping on the correct retailer sight. If the website is something other than “.com”, chances are it is a fake. Do your research and pay attention to the website. If the website is a “knock off”, you will see the difference. Did you know the “s” in “https” stands for secure? If there is no “s”, move on.
- 2. Take the Money and Run – Websites are set up with “authentic” or “custom made” merchandise. When you order from these sites, you provide your credit card information to pay for the item and the item never comes. Now the individuals took your money, you have nothing to show for it and they have your credit card information.
How to avoid it? Do your homework. Research the company, call the company to speak with an employee, read the customer reviews. Do not give your credit card out without being 100% certain the company is legitimate. If they are legitimate, they will do whatever it takes to make you feel comfortable doing business with them.
- Auction Sites – E-Bay is probably the biggest Auction Site on the web. It is also the most problematic Auction Site. When purchasing an item through an auction, there are several scams that may occur:
- The seller posts a picture of an expensive item, the bidding war begins, the auction ends, money is sent and the seller posts a picture of the purchased item stating “technically” that is all they listed for sale was the picture, not the actual item.
- The buyer purchases an item either by auction or the buy now tab and the seller requests the buyer to pay outside of E-Bay for various reasons. The buyer pays and goes to pick up the item or waits for receipt of the item. When contacting the seller due to never receiving the item, the seller states the item was never listed on E-Bay and it is not for sale.
- The auction or sale is complete. The item is received by the buyer and it is damaged or not the correct item. The seller is unresponsive to contact attempts.
How to avoid it? Always make the sure the seller is active on the site. Look for reviews. If they have no reviews, they may be new to the site and started just to pull these scams. Never pay outside of auction site. Ask questions about the item. Get the seller to provide intricate details including extra pictures. Read the description of the item carefully to see if there are any keywords that stick out making the listing unauthentic.
- Facebook Sellers – If a seller posts an item to your newsfeed through Facebook, you have to click on the link and you are re-routed to a different page. At that point, you are no longer secure. Once you enter their site, all your personal information is provided to them. Should you buy an item, they then have all your credit card information as well. It is so easy to be scrolling through Facebook, see a cute item for sale, hit the link, and within seconds you have purchased the item.
How to avoid it? Stop and think about what you are purchasing. Do not leave Facebook. Do not click on that link. Check out the website on your own. Do your homework. Ensure they have a safety symbol on their website.
Cyber-Shopping is so easy and convenient, we often lose ourselves to the fast paced life that we go for convenience over common sense. Before shopping online, do your research. Are you at a safe, secure website? Does the website look authentic? Check out the reviews of the seller, whether it’s an individual or a company. Ensure the url states “https” as this indicates a secure site. Trust your gut. I cannot express this enough. We know when something doesn’t look right, if we take the time to pay attention. Finally, if the deal seems too good to be true, it is so walk away!
“Trust your gut. It knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet.”