No one wants to fall prey to an online shopping scam. And with the holidays around the corner, it’s even more important to know which online shopping websites are genuine and which are fake.
Online shopping scams involve scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers, either with a fake website or a fake ad on a genuine retailer site. They go to extreme lengths to try and get your personal information (such as your account numbers or Social Security number), but you have more power than you may think!
How can you spot online shopping scams?
Online scammers can be tricky, but you’re smarter. By knowing the warning signs, you can avoid shopping at fraudulent websites and get what you need when you need it. Here are a few of the most common warning signs:
- Company offers bargain-basement prices on items—more than 55%.
- The website design and content are poor—actual retailers take great care to ensure their website presents the business well.
- The website only gives you limited ways to contact the company—maybe you must fill out a contact form, or the customer service email is a Yahoo or Gmail account, not a corporate one.
- There is no return policy outlined on the website—or if it’s available, there is no phone number to call with any questions.
- The company uses URLs with extraneous words or characters, such as .bargain or .app—most legitimate stores are particular about their brand and put it in their URL.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Staying Safe Online
- Use trusted sites for online shopping.
- It’s okay to comparison shop, but if you see a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Check to make sure the phone number and addresses listed on a store’s site are genuine, so you know who to call with any problems.
- Read the reviews of any new product or service you want to buy and avoid them if you see someone say it’s a scam or doesn’t work correctly.
- Pay by credit card when possible. Then, you’ll be more protected if a scammer uses your card fraudulently.
- Make sure the site you’re using is secure by locating the lock or https in the URL.
- Read through the delivery, exchange, refund, and privacy policies before you buy – if they are vague or don’t exist, shop elsewhere.
- Update your malware and virus software regularly to protect your computer or phone from unwanted issues.
- Never buy an item online if the seller requires you to pay by wire transfer, money order, or gift card. Unfortunately, if you do, there is little recourse to recover any money should you fall prey to fraud.
- Never provide more information than a retailer needs—fill in only the areas on the order form that have asterisks.
- Never buy on a site that requires you to download software or enter personal information to access coupons or discount codes.
If you fall victim to an online shopping scam, call us immediately at 405-755-1000. Additionally, we encourage you to file a complaint with ReportFraud.ftc.gov and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Finally, even if you’re not a victim but spot a fraudulent website, it’s a good idea to file a complaint to protect others from fraud.
While we wish we could protect all our customers from online fraud, we know that’s impossible. However, we hope you’ll take note of these tips and do all you can to protect yourself as best you can. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 405-755-1000.