How to Avoid Online Shopping Scams

There are far too many people out there who have fallen victim to online scams. You need to do what you can to avoid being one of them.

You can expect that scammers will work as hard as they can to trick you out of your money. It’s easy enough to avoid scams as long as you follow these six simple steps. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, and they could potentially save you a lot of money.

1. Be Extra Careful

If you feel that something is too good to be true, then it likely is. It’s also likely a scam. You should be wary if you spot something that’s discounted over 40%. If you feel that the price is too low, you need to be extra careful.

2. Get the Web of Trust (WOT) Plugin

Web of Trust (WOT) makes use of crowd sourced reports on websites including scams, privacy leaks, and the reputation that a vendor has. This plugin will warn you if you find yourself on a suspicious site or one with a bad reputation. The WOT extension can be installed on all the main web browsers. You can get it for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge and Safari.

This plugin tells you if a website is one you can trust to do your surfing, shopping, and searching on. It uses a traffic-light warning system that’s easy enough to understand. Green means that the website is safe, yellow means you should be cautious, and red means you shouldn’t go any further.

You should remember that due to the crowd-sourced nature of WOT there may be some false positives. Don’t trust a website just because it’s got a green rating and remember all of our advice.

3. Google the Name of the Site

Performing a simple Google search, such as searching the name of the site and “scam” sends you to dozens of websites and forums designed to monitor for scams and where people share their experience of a website.

If you’re looking for information on retailers specifically then take a look at Reseller Ratings. Just remember that, as is the case with any other kind of review system, people will abuse and leave false feedback to guide traffic to or away from a website.

4. Send the Store an Email

A good step to take is just to email the site and ask them about the product you’re looking at. Many reputable sites will have a system in place to respond to your message, and you can tell a lot about a company by how they talk to you.

If the response is garbled and filled with mistakes, then it’s a red flag. Another big red flag is if the email they respond from comes from a domain name that doesn’t match the website name; such as if they use Gmail or Hotmail.

5. Start out Small

If you’re not in a particular hurry, you might want to start out by purchasing something small and inexpensive from the website. That gives you the chance to test how quickly and efficiently they respond; how shipping is handled; if there are any shipping delays; if they try to charge hidden costs; if they send you the right item; how the item was packaged, and other such similar things.

You should be careful about how you pay for this stuff, which brings us to our last point.

6. Be Smart about Payment

You should never disclose your login details for your credit/debit card, bank account, PayPal or Google Checkout over email.

If you’re buying something, it helps to use your credit card or PayPal/Google Checkout so that you have an easier time reclaiming your money if you do get scammed. One great feature you should be using if your credit card has it is the ability to create virtual card numbers; in essence creating a disposable credit card number to protect your card.

Always check to make sure that you’re on the legitimate PayPal or Google Checkout page when making a payment. You can find this out by just looking at the address bar.

Remember that a legitimate seller will never ask you to provide your Social Security Number, your Driver’s License number, or for your mother’s maiden name. Watch out for people who ask for those kinds of details.

Last updated: September 16th, 2017. Bookmark the permalink.

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