Online shopping is becoming more popular — and so, too, are fraudulent websites designed to scam shoppers. Learn about the precautions you can take to avoid becoming the next victim.
When shopping online, it is good remember the adage “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That’s because fraudulent websites touting significantly discounted prices for popular products are common — and social media platforms and online search engines are increasingly directing people to them, according a security alert issued by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI has been receiving numerous complaints from victimized online shoppers. In some cases, they purchased but never received items. In other cases, they received their orders but the items were not as promised. The victims, many of which were unable to get their money back, reported that they were led to the fraudulent sites by ads they saw on social media platforms and by search results when they were searching for specific items on the “Shopping” pages of popular online search engines.
Although fraudulent sites are common, there are precautions you can take to avoid becoming a scam victim. The measures to take depend on whether you are shopping on a seller’s dedicated site or shopping in an online marketplace.
Checking a Seller with a Dedicated Site
With website content management systems like WordPress, Wix, and Shopify, online scammers can quickly and easily create dedicated sites to hawk their wares. These sites often look and function as well as any legitimate site, making them hard to spot at first glance. However, with a little investigative work, you can usually uncover the truth.
Before making a purchase from a site you have never used before, it is a good idea to:
Checking a Seller in an Online Marketplace
In an online marketplace (e.g., Amazon Marketplace, Walmart Marketplace, eBay), numerous third-party sellers offer products and services. While these sellers are responsible for what is displayed on their specific web pages, they are not involved in creating, registering, or managing the marketplace site. Thus, some of the precautions just discussed do not apply.
Here are some actions that you can take to avoid being scammed by sellers in online marketplaces:
Another Concern to Keep in Mind
Scams are not the only concern you need to keep in mind when shopping online. Ads on social media platforms and search engine results might link to fake seller websites designed to install malware on the devices of the people who visit them. We can make sure your devices are properly patched and secured, which will mitigate the risk those type of attacks will succeed.