How to Spot a Scam Online Shopping Site

Clair Feng

Internet purchasing fraud was virtually non-existent in the past. Shoppers just had to be concerned about robbers and swindlers. However, the Federal Trade Commission reports that the problem of internet purchasing fraud has more than doubled between December 2019 and May 2020.

Modern-day customers must exercise extreme caution to avoid being duped out of their money in exchange for phony, inferior, or counterfeit items. Their personal and financial information, as well as data, are at risk.

Detecting a phony internet site might be tricky because no software or website is dedicated to this goal. As a result, before making any online transactions, everyone has a problem doing a website fraud check.

Continue reading to learn about several warning indicators that might help you identify a fraudulent online shopping site.

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Five Ways to Spot a Scam Online Shopping Site

1. Strange Payment Methods

Legitimate internet sites mostly employ payment methods such as PayPal, Stripe, gift cards, and credit cards. These payment options are typically associated with their respective brands or companies.

Scammers seek payment methods that are fast and untraceable after payments are made. As a result, be cautious of any website that requests payment through money order, direct bank transfer, bitcoin, or wire transfer.

Using gift cards that do not belong to their company or brand as a payment mechanism can also indicate a scam site—for example, using Amazon gift cards on a website purporting to offer designer bags.

2. Unrealistic Price Offers

Everyone enjoys a good deal. However, if your instincts tell you that the prices are too good to be true, they are most likely correct.

Even in circumstances of discounted promotions for products like electronics and designers, you should exercise caution before acquiring items with costs much below the norm. Scammers frequently utilize this tactic to entice victims.

3. Unusual URL Name

Legitimate retailers use simple domain names based on their brand or business names, such as Shoplazza, Walmart, or BestBuy. As a result, online customers should pay close attention to website URLs.

Most of the time, fraudsters utilize domain names similar to authentic ones but have slight differences. Typos, an extra underscore, a capital letter rather than lowercase, or a different letter or number are examples of such changes.

A fraudster, for example, may con Walmart consumers who did not spot the error in Walmrt.com. An odd URL name is a red flag that the website is bogus.

4. Bad Reviews

It is best to follow the advice of a previous customer who visited the site most of the time. Customer evaluations are essential since they provide vital information about a company or website.

As a result, you should read the reviews before purchasing from a website. This might help you avoid defrauding, especially if the website is fraudulent. However, not all reviews can be trusted. User evaluations of organizations and websites may be found on Google and ProductReview.

5. Weird or Non-Existent Contact Address

A contact address is always included on legitimate internet sites; perhaps you have a problem. This guarantees that their consumers have a pleasant and satisfying experience. On the other hand, scammers are unconcerned about this; their sole concern is scamming you of your money or personal information.

As a result, before clicking the "purchase now" button on any website, pay attention to minor details such as contact information. Websites with no contact information, such as addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses, should be ignored. There is a substantial likelihood that these are forgeries.

The inclusion of such contact information does not always rule out the possibility of fraud, as the information is given may be fake.

How to Report a Scam Online Site

It is sad to be a victim of an internet buying scam. While you may never see your money again, especially if you paid with a wire transfer or bitcoin, there is some good news.

The good news is that you may report such phony websites to the FTC or the Better Business Bureau. By doing so, such websites would be shut down, preventing others from being defrauded in the future.

Nonetheless, you may avoid future online shopping frauds by keeping an eye out for the warning flags outlined above!

(Contributed by Ayotomiwa Omotosho; Co-author: Clair Feng)

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