Shopping online has never been easier. A click of the mouse and our items are bought, packaged, shipped and delivered to us. Moreover, we are often certain that behind our screen, nothing can happen to us and that everything is secure, like a physical store. Is this really true?
The answer is unfortunately no. The scammers are very present, on the lookout for any dishonest schemes and the task is facilitated by technological means such as bank transfers and credit card codes. No need to be paranoid, just be careful and not to head any online business that offers the items of your dreams. We have gathered some points to observe, do’s and don’ts when shopping online.
This is a third piece of our Fake online businesses “trilogy”. We made it as a conclusion, or more like a fine-tuning: what to do if you’ve done all the things as explained in “5 ways to protect yourself from fake online stores”, and you’re still unsure. If this is the case, go on with the check-list here.
What to check on online shops
- Use a firewall. This is a program that mainly protects you from fake online sites, prevents viruses from getting on your computer and warns you when a folder or download seems suspicious. Installing it is a great way to avoid the big scams. However, stay alert. Firewalls are not all proof and may not recognize a fraudulent site. Scammers are becoming more and more ingenious and are inventing a thousand schemes to scam you for money or banking data. They are often one step ahead of firewalls. The software therefore needs to be updated regularly to be effective. Generally, he will send you reminders, which should not be pushed too long.
- Use web security. Admittedly, scammers are constantly inventing new ways to defraud, but online retailers who want to sell their stock online have also found ingenious ways to authenticate their business. When you enter an authentic online site with buy-in, you have to be careful at your browser signs. When dealing with an unknown online store, is better to do this on desktop, not smartphone.
- Check the URL. It must start with https. The “s” meaning security.
- Check the address bar icons. Next to the URL in the search bar, a small padlock certifies the security of the site. As for the address bar, some or all of it should be displayed in green under any browser. If this is not the case, your site is not secure.
- Verify the site data & CGV. Any legal website must display its general conditions of sale (GTC) at the bottom of its site, and this, from the home page. These are not the same as those for a physical activity of the same kind, because they must include information in case of connection problem or site failure.
Legal notices must also be present on all pages of any website, whether private or professional. However, the data there is slightly different if the site is for professional use. Here is what must imperatively find in the imprint:
- Name of the company (business name)
- First name + name of the responsible person
- Full address
- E-mail address
How to check for online scam attempts
- Read the GTCS and the legal notice. It is true that few people read the legal notices or the GTC. The fact that they appear is unfortunately not enough to authenticate a site, because they can be copied illegally. By reading the Terms and Conditions, you may avoid a scam related to the duration of a contract or a lack of after-sales service. The legal notices, they are useful in a more direct way. Since the e-mail address must appear in the mentions, write an e-mail to the company. If it does not answer you after several attempts, you can be sure that the site does not exist and that the address is false.
- Call customer service. If a phone number appears as customer service, call. If nobody answers after several tests, again, know that this is most likely a fake sales site.
- Read the reviews. Less bothering the GTCs, the comments left by other buyers are often good indicators of fraudulent online sites. Type the name of the company in your browser and if nothing happens, it’s not a good sign. If it appears on forums or sites for commenting on online businesses, read the reviews. You will be able to get an idea very quickly. Caution, however, as comments (both positive and negative) may be false. Cross the sources of opinion sites and form your own opinion.
How to avoid being scammed in online shopping
- Don’t give your bank details. The advice may seem trivial and obvious. And yet, the number of scams developed for you to transmit your bank data grows like mushrooms: links sent by e-mail from a known brand or from your own bank (false address obviously), requests telephone banking data for “Check” that the system is working again etc. Your bank or genuine online stores will never ask you to provide your bank details by e-mail or phone.
- Don’t save your bank details in forms. When you place an order online and pay by credit card, you must enter your bank details. Then the site or even your browser can offer you to save your data. Do not check yes. This is a very fast and easy way for fraudsters to steal your data. Prefer to enter your data at each payment. The few seconds lost in typing your codes are worth not being scammed for money.
- Don’t fall into the trap of super promotion. Easier said than done, is not it? You have spotted this beautiful brand bag or this high-end notebook sold at 80% discount? This is most likely a scam. If you say “it’s too good to be true”, it’s precisely because it’s not true. In case you still want to check that you do not miss a great opportunity, read the points above and check that everything is in its place and secure.