COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically changing our habits, forcing us to stay at home. In these conditions, online commerce and delivery of goods has acquired a new, almost strategic importance – but can it also be safe?
How can online shops cheat?
They do not deliver your purchase
Some online stores are fully prepaid. Sometimes after that, you may receive a low-quality product or not see your purchase at all.
They sell a known defective product
Often the courier is in a hurry, so you cannot carefully examine the purchase. And when you later find out that the product is defective, they refuse to change it under the pretext that you broke the thing.
Redundant data request
Unscrupulous online sellers require you to provide a phone number for communication and other personal information that has nothing to do with the purchase. And then they will sign you up for spam and advertising calls.
Some sites only disguise themselves as an online store. All they need is to trick your bank card details along with a secret code to steal your savings.
Some goods sold in foreign online stores may be prohibited in your country—for example, cannabis nutritional supplements or something else. You must be sure of the product legality in your country.
Tips to be safe during the online purchasing
Buy goods of popular brands exclusively on the already proven Internet sites, best of all, those already familiar to you. If the site is new to you, you should be alerted by any circumstance from the list below:
1. Too low price;
2. Almost complete absence on the Internet of reviews about the site or reviews, which are mostly negative;
3. Lack on the site of the address of the company that owns the site and other contact information;
4. The seller’s desire not to give you time to think about the purchase in correspondence or during a conversation on the phone;
5. Redirecting to suspicious sites not related to the store.
So, you need to keep an attention on these details:
To the address bar of the browser
The pages for entering confidential data of any reliable service are always protected, and the data is transmitted in encrypted form. The site address must begin with “HTTPS: //,” next to which a closed green padlock is drawn.
On customer reviews
Always read reviews of the store you want to buy from. Large foreign online stores (for example, Amazon and eBay) value their reputation so much that they even have their customer protection programs. For example, they can return money if the package is lost.
Check any of the online offers
If you received a letter by mail or messenger on behalf of a company you know with an offer to make purchases on its website, do not rush to follow the link. It is better to copy it into the browser and, without going through, check the site’s name – what if the site is fake, and the letter is from scammers? Always, when going to make purchases, do not be lazy to check whether the site belongs to a particular company. A simple search will quickly solve this problem. Instead of using a link to go to an online store site, it is safest to manually enter the URL into your web browser’s address bar. While inconvenient, this simple step can help prevent you from visiting a fake or malicious website.
Pay attention to the contact information posted on the website of the online store. There must be a physical address and phone number for the store. It is advisable to see any phone numbers from the sales manager. If only an email address is provided, the first doubts should arise about this online store.
Get a temporary credit card
Some credit card companies issue their customers a temporary credit card number. Temporary numbers can be useful for one-time purchases. However, they should not be used for purchases that require automatic renewals or recurring payments.
Check the rating of the website of the online store in Internet search engines – Bing, Google. It is unlikely that scammers will spend time and money promoting their online store website in search engines.
Review the warranty and customs regulations
Are you buying equipment from a foreign online store? Be sure to study the terms of its warranty service in your country: are there any official workshops, what documents you need to contact there, is it possible, if necessary, to exchange goods in your country.
Take care of public Wi-Fi
If you are in a mall looking to buy something, sometimes you want to compare a local deal at the last minute with the best deals on the Internet. However, accessing the Internet via a public Wi-Fi network comes with a specific risk. Cybercriminals can intercept your data, logins, and passwords for logging into websites and financial information. If you need to go online while shopping, the safest way to do so is through your mobile phone network or connect a VPN to encrypt your connection.
What to do if you still became a victim of scammers?
As soon as you find that the money from the card began to flow away, contact the bank urgently, or at least do it the next day, but not later. Block your card and protest the transfer as a fraudulent transaction. But do not dispute any card transactions if you have performed them. For example, you paid for the goods and then realized that the store was fake. Otherwise, you will most likely have to pay the penalty for an erroneously protested transaction. Look for information about this in your agreement with the bank or on its website.
Report to the police too. They will provide you more information on how to behave in such a type of situation. As long as cybercrimes are more and more popular, you will be guided through all processes to solve an issue.