With so many people stuck indoors, the only shopping industry has exploded. Even those that were once unfamiliar with the practice are now onboard. But, with the influx of people, there are now also new online shopping scams that can be very tricky to discern from real offers.
Also, the issue is that online scammers now aren’t only after your money from a fake purchase but after your data. Not only that, you will be listed somewhere as someone prone to scams, making the efforts to fool you as never before.
There are ways to protect yourself and, if you are careful, avoid these scamming platforms altogether. Generally, you will want to use three things:
- VPN to change your IP address
- A separate buying account for one-off purchases
- Critical evaluation of the website and shipping
The first two are technical. If you have a premium VPN provider like Le VPN and a possibility from your bank to offer a secure credit card, you will be all set. But, the last one is still tricky, as there are not yet good apps to help us.
You must introduce the practice always to check if the seller is reputable and if your purchase is protected. The worst thing when buying from Amazon is that the product is bad due to fake testimonials. But, on individual websites, the cost can be much greater!
Why are Shopping Scams Effective?
It is only natural for people to buy as much stuff for as little money as possible. And, while for most products, we can safely determine a scam due to a low price or bad description, others are outside of our domain.
Items that are not purchased often or are seen as luxurious are most common when it comes to scams. Designer clothes that usually cost hundreds of dollars are sold for tens, and technical goods like PC components that go for thousands are offered for hundreds.
Additionally, especially in these times where health is on everyone’s mind, different supplements, over-the-counter medicine, and other sorts of medical ”wonder-drugs” are filling the internet. Most of them are just sugar balls.
Finally, there are cheap knock-offs of familiar products imported from other countries, which might not be a scam in the narrow sense of the word. In many situations, the seller will mention that it is ”faux-gold”, expecting buyers to be confused.
Too Good to Be True
In general, if something is too good to be true, it is because it is a scam. Even though there are good deals out there and there are places where you can buy the items you want cheaper, no seller will give a 90% discount for new and popular items.
Every time you think you have found an awesome deal that is borderline unbelievable, you shouldn’t believe in it. Check the website online and even try to call them. If the word ”scam” appears more than a few times, that would be your queue to move away.
More than Just Your Money on the Line
If you know how to use a VPN, you know it can be used to watch content from another country. The same way streaming services know where you are watching from, online shopping scams work to steal your information.
In many cases, this is actually their primary goal. Once you are on the website, they inform you that you have a chance of winning something for free if only you leave your billing information. While you are not charged anything, your data is being collected.
And, if you do make a payment, you are giving the scammers your banking info. If you are not careful with your bills, payments, and where your money is going, you can find yourself in the red with your bank.
The Phishing Website
This is now the most common of all online shopping scams. Fake online stores are made to look almost identical to the regular store, especially if that brand doesn’t have a dedicated page or is only a part of a larger brand.
Here, the scammers might even offer regular products with regular prices, only marked as a ”sale” item where you can get 30% off or more. This page will very often be marketed on social media, and Instagram has been particularly infamous for them.
Because of the possibility of such scams, you must use an anonymous email address when ordering from these websites.
Uncertified Social Media Dealers
Many social media platforms like Facebook have become a perfect staging ground for online shopping scams because of the number of older people using the platform. Additionally, many scammers make little communities where they will help each other with a ”fake reputation”.
Likes and reviews will be sold, as well as testimonials.
Additionally, the seller will pretend to use a real name and information, with pictures stolen from other people. And, once they have your money, they will disappear.
Ironically, many of these accounts on social media are made with personal information stolen from former victims, creating even more problems for people being preyed upon.
While online shopping fraud is becoming rampant, this shouldn’t dissuade you from looking up deals online. But, you will need to protect yourself.
If you use a premium VPN like Le VPN, your devices will be secured, and you can always ask for a detached credit card from your bank. With that in your pocket and a bit of research when buying, you will always be safe from scammers that are after your wallet and info.
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