With the convenience of online shopping also comes the need to be vigilant when spending your hard-earned ‘cash’ on the internet. Sales offer a whole host of offers which many of us will be keen to snap up, but it should also be a time when we are more wary of online shopping scams.
Unscrupulous scammers will attempt to get you to part with your money or harvest your personal details in order to defraud others. It is estimated that fraudsters swindled UK shoppers out of almost £60m last year through various online scams.
What Kind of Online Shopping Scams do I Need to Look out for?
Online scams can take many forms, with some more sophisticated than others. However, they all have the same aim of defrauding online shoppers into parting with money or sensitive information.
Here are a few different online scams to watch for:
These involve you receiving an email from a retailer, such as Amazon, or your bank or building society asking you to click on a link and enter your login details. A scammer posing as a retailer may send you an email claiming there is something wrong with your order, or you may be asked by someone posing as a bank to check your security settings by entering your bank details.
These may pop up when you are on a legitimate website. They will usually be advertising some ‘not to be missed’ offer and very often pose as recognized retailers. Once you click on them, you will either be sent to a clone of a well-known website or a site that sells sub-standard goods and knock-offs of well-known brands.
Vouchers, Gift Cards or Fake Competitions
These can often be seen on social media sites and will look like they are from recognized retailers such as Amazon, Tesco, or Argos. You will be invited to Click on them and enter a competition for vouchers or share the post to stand a chance of winning something.
How to Spot an Online Shopping Scam
The first, and perhaps golden rule in relation to online shopping is that if it is too good to be true, it probably is. If a site is selling top quality products at a fraction of the normal cost, then alarm bells should ring.
In the case of phishing scams, never click on a link which is sent through an email. Always check the email address of the sender by clicking on the ‘from’ field in the message. Very often, a scam email address will be made up of a random selection of letters and numbers and be a Hotmail or Gmail address.
Just like us at Suits Me, banks and major retailers will never contact you directly to ask for your personal details and if you feel that there is a problem with your account, log on through the company’s main website rather then through an unsolicited link.
For potentially fake websites, take a note of the URL. If it is a safe website, then the URL will start with ‘https’ rather than ‘http’. Fake websites may also have words spelled incorrectly or have characters swapped out for similar ones, for example ‘Amaz0n’ instead of ‘Amazon’.
Above all, tread carefully and stick to sites you know and report any scam or phishing attempts when you see them.