Online Shopping Scams: Tips for Safe and Secure E-commerce Transactions - ForumDaily
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Online Shopping Scams: Tips for Safe and Secure E-commerce Transactions

Although online shopping provides an immense level of convenience, it also brings with it a degree of insecurity. Online scams are on the rise as they now account for 38% of all fraud, a 6% increase from 2020. Protecting yourself while shopping is paramount to staying safe. In this article, we've highlighted some of the best tips for safe and secure e-commerce transactions.

Photo: IStock

The internet has dark areas where cybercriminals lurk. They are constantly trying to steal your sensitive information, including your account passwords, identity, browsing history, and of course, money. This is why taking the right steps when shopping online is very important.

But before we jump into safe tips for secure online transactions, it's important to understand the threats we face to protect ourselves better. Many types of online fraud occur when we shop online, including fake websites, online auction frauds, and phishing scams, as explained below.

Types of Online Shopping Scams

Phishing

Phishing is the most common type of online shopping scam. According to a survey by Statista in 2022, 43% of the respondents claimed to have experienced a phishing attack.

A typical phishing scam involves sending messages or emails that look like they're from legitimate companies or organizations when in reality, they are from hackers and fraudsters. They try tricking you into clicking on a link, downloading something, or giving out your data.

Credit Card Fraud

credit card fraud occurs when cybercriminals use stolen or counterfeit card information to make illegal purchases online. About 60% of the respondents in the survey mentioned above reported having experienced some kind of credit card fraud.

identity theft

As the name suggests, identity theft refers to the act of stealing someone's private and personal information and using it to impersonate to access their financial accounts. This information includes your birth certificate, driver's license, and social security numbers.

Account Takeover Fraud

Account takeover fraud happens when a hacker gains access to your online accounts, including your shopping, bank, or email accounts. They steal login information through other dubious methods, including hacking or phishing scams.

Friendly Fraud and Chargeback Fraud

This happens when a customer makes a legal or legitimate purchase but later disputes those charges with their credit card company, citing the purchase was fraudulent.

Fake websites

As the name suggests, this scam involves making replica websites that look like the original e-commerce site, tricking customers into giving their information while making false purchases. These websites resemble the original legitimate e-commerce websites as they feature logos, pictures, and payment options similar to the original ones.

Tips for Safe and Secure E-commerce Transactions

How can you spot online shopping scams? What are some of the best practices that you can use to avoid these scams?

Here are some tips to help you stay safe when shopping online:

Be vigilant about website authority

Before you head over to any website or click on any link redirecting you to buy, make sure the website is legitimate and secure.

How do you check the credibility of a website?

Look for the “HTTPS” at the beginning of the URL, which is typically accompanied by that trusty padlock icon in the address bar. This is a sign of trustworthiness as it shows that your connection is encrypted and no one else can intercept your signal.

You can also check for reviews and ratings before you start shopping. However, this is not advisable, as reviews and ratings can be fabricated these days.

Instead, look for contacts and physical addresses linked to the online store. Legitimate online stores should provide transparent and easily accessible contact information.

Additionally, look for legitimate return policies and customer support availability. Look for information regarding returns, exchanges, or refunds on the website.

Photo: IStock

Safeguard personal and financial information

Safeguarding your personal information, including your user accounts, email, and bank accounts, heavily depends on our ability to have strong and unique passwords.

Strong and unique passwords are long (more than 12 characters), have complex characters (such as $,@, and !), and are completely random.

Using information from your life, such as your dog's name, the street you grew up on, or your birthday, is a bad idea as it allows hackers a foot in as they try to hack your accounts.

We recommend trying out password managers. Not only do they generate strong, random passwords, but they also manage all your passwords in one place. This tool eliminates the need to keep remembering your passwords.

Speaking of tools, another great and valuable tool that you should consider when shopping online is a VPN. You've probably heard of VPNs before, but trusty VPNs, like ExpressVPN, enhance online security. They do so by encrypting or safeguarding your online connection, effectively stopping hackers from intercepting your signal and stealing your data.

Use secure payment methods

When shopping online, use secure payment methods, including PayPal, credit card, or a reputable online payment service. Never send money through a source that is not known or trusted.

Better yet, never give your financial information to someone or a website you don't know as part of your payment option.

And lastly, stay aware of cryptocurrency scams and avoid using cash, wire transfers, gift cards as these are almost impossible to trace in the event of fraud.

Exercise caution with deals that seem too good to be true

We all love a good deal. But when the prices seem unrealistically low, think twice. Scammers are smart these days, meaning they'll often pose as good deals to lure unsuspecting shoppers into giving up their sensitive data or hard-earned money.

The general consensus is if you see huge discounts over 55% on given products, be careful because they might be too good to be true.

Conclusion

When shopping online, it's very important that you remain vigilant and protect yourself from cybercriminals. In addition to the tips mentioned above, constantly educating yourself about online threats is a great way to stay safe.

But in the event of a data breach, remember to remain calm, contact your bank or credit card company, and report this case. Document all evidence for future reference as well.

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shopping Selected articles in English Online Scams
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