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Is Online Shopping Safe? Tips To Avoid Scam Online Stores

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Let’s be honest, who doesn’t do online shopping these days? Brick-and-mortar locations have definitely felt the blow over the years, which is why they all have an online presence. Those that don’t have either long since faded out or likely don’t have long left. Even grocery stores made the move in recent years. 

But with every consumer trend comes a scheme to follow, and that’s why online shopping fraud is a massive problem. In 2018 alone, the FTC reported the loss of almost $1.5 billion to internet sales scams. Read on to learn more about how to tell if an online store is safe, online shopping scams, and what the right course of action is should they happen to you. 

What Is An Online Shopping Scam?

The practice is exactly what the name suggests: anyone that purchases something from a fraudulent seller, doesn’t receive their goods, and has their money stolen has fallen victim to an online shopping scam. Knowing how to spot the types of scams, though, starts with understanding the most common types: 

Classified Scams

The classified scam can often be rather dangerous. Using websites like Craiglist to purchase goods, meeting a person, and having your money stolen could see you get seriously injured. Let’s be honest, you put a lot of trust into strangers when you purchase something without the protection of regulation and legitimacy. Proving that you’ve been scammed in this way might even be difficult to prove. That’s why you should never hand any money over without getting the goods, just be cautious when meeting with people you don’t know. 

Illegitimate Retailers

The technology available means it’s easy to set up scam online stores that easily replicate legitimate ones, tricking people into paying for goods they’ll never receive. The easiest way to notice identify these is that despite having the same logo, layout, graphics, and everything else, the methods of payment will be different. Expect to see wire transfers, pre-loaded gift cards, or some sort of money order as the required methods. This is what ensures you won’t be able to recall any of the money you’ve spent. 

Medical Products

It’s not uncommon that people will turn to the internet in order to find their much-needed medication for a lesser price. This is exactly what lures people in. It’s a sorry state of affairs when the people most in need and desperate are being deprived of their money, especially when the money they’ve wasted on a scam is meant to ensure their quality of life. 

How To Tell If An Online Store Is Safe

1. HTTPS

If a website has an SSL certificate, with the URL beginning with HTTPS instead of just HTTP, you can rest assured that it’s encrypted and safe to use. Scam websites aren’t able to fake this and as such, will never have that little padlock in the far left of the URL bar.  Though some sites don’t have them simply because they’re outdated and poorly maintained, every online retailer will, and simply has to for trust purposes and to be able to compete. 

2. Read Online Reviews

Be sure to see what other customers have to say before rushing into any purchases. There are plenty of trustworthy sites out there like Trustpilot where, with a simple name check, you can learn about consumer experiences. Customer support, reliability, and a general rating are all available – and if you don’t find the website on there, there’s a good chance that it can’t be trusted with your money 

3. Verify Through Third-Party Websites 

There are plenty of review sites out there that’ll take the time to explore the services available and give their opinions. Not just that, but certain accreditations exist to give validation to online retailers. If you don’t find yours with any of these accreditations, from the BBB, for example, you’re likely dealing with a scam retailer. 

4. Check The Privacy Policy

The privacy policy is where you find out what a company does with your data, what data it takes, and how it protects it. If there’s no information in there about how you’ll be protected, or if you find that it’s improperly written – with no clear attempt at legalese – you should take that as a warning sign/

5. Look For Contact Information

No scammer will want to give you a direct line to their home or place of work, so be sure to check for contact information. You’ll likely find there’s just an email address rather than nothing, but it can’t hurt to try it out before making purchasing. Really, though, there are so many trusted retailers out there that it’s probably not worth taking the risk anyway. 

What To Do If You’ve Been Scammed Online Shopping 

1. Call Your Bank Or Credit Card Company 

If you’ve been scammed, the first thing you should do is get in touch with your bank and cancel your card. They’ll put you through to the fraud response team who’ll look to get your money back as well as identify those that have scammed you. You always stand the chance that this may not be possible, however, as the banks will be working on a number of cases alongside your own. 

2. File An Online Complaint

There are plenty of organizations out there that work only to protect consumers from fraudulent entities. Many of them are non-profits and will bring legal action against companies that responsible for scamming on a wide scale. Chances are, you’ve been caught out by a website that’s hit many other people too, so they’ll no doubt be keen to hear about your case. 

3. Get Your Money Back 

Payback is a focused team of chargeback experts that works tirelessly to get people the money that’s been wrongly taken from them. Once we hear your case, you’ll have us at your full disposal, collecting all the evidence and approaching the entity responsible for taking your money. You need only reach out to get your free consultation booked and for a member of our team to get in touch. 

Does PayPal refund money if scammed?

4. File A Police Report

Given that fraud is a crime, after all, you should file a report with the police. It might be a slow process since your call will need to be put through to the relevant departments, but you’ll likely find that this could expedite processes with fraud-stopping companies and offer them a much more rounded case study to act from. 

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