With the help of the internet today, it became easier to visit an online retail store, browse through a variety of goods, add some products to your shopping cart, and with just one click, you can instantly buy it. However, since online shopping comes with simplicity, it also comes with larger challenges. One of the main concerns that online shopping has until today is its security problems. Online shopping scams are still prevalent today especially when people prefer to buy goods online and have them delivered right to their doorstep to avoid going outside. 

In this article, we will identify the signs of online shopping scams and things you can do to avoid them. 

1. There is no enough contact information 

Even if the business doesn’t have a storefront, it should be based somewhere. Try to check their contact information or the about page to learn something about the company or business. If there is no address or contact phone number, then that is a major warning sign. 

Also, it may indicate that the site hasn’t been around for a long time. Although there are some exceptions, many established retailers and brands have been on the internet for years. Here’s what you can do if you’re not sure about a site, you may want to check Wayback Machine, it’s an archive of the Internet found at archive.org. You as a user can search a website and see archived versions of the website throughout the time. 

Here you will see what content used to exist there, and what design was formerly used there. This may be a huge red flag if inside the past year the website came into existence. 

2. You are not allowed to pay debit or credit card

Be cautious if the seller or shop is requiring you to pay by money order, cash, bitcoin, wire transfer or a prepaid gift card. Wire transfer as a payment method has little option to acquiring the money back. And just don’t proceed if the site ever asks you for details that seem too personal or useless for the transaction, like your Social Security number. 

Moreover, it’s better if there’s cash on delivery so you can be sure that they have delivery drivers who will bring you the item and pay it to them directly. This will help you make sure that you will receive the item. 

3. Uses fake trust seals

If you know trust seals like McAfee and Trust, they can suggest that a site is monitored or is recognized to follow and use security measures to protect users’ information and data. If you see the seal, don’t take the image immediately as proof since anyone can copy and paste one onto a website notwithstanding copyright restrictions. Take note that the seal should be clickable, and you should be led to either the seal provider’s site or a pop-up that confirms its validity.  

However, not having a seal doesn’t literally mean that a site is a scam. But having a seal that is not clickable may be a warning sign. 

4. Having poor site reviews 

If you don’t know the shopping site that well, you can spend some time searching for reviews or even complaints. Try to look and search for the website’s name together with the words “scam” or “review” and read several of the results showing on top. Never be too fast to conclude anything from a pile of negative ratings. Usually, the site is not a scam but the products it markets and sells may be lacking. 

5. The website design is poorly done and uses wrong grammar 

If you will notice, established fashion companies are experts in design. They spend most of their money on improving the design of their website until it becomes perfect. These businesses aim to have the most ideal imagery of their products and they want them to be fancy and of high quality. Having unprofessional-looking design, poor-quality photos, and overall messy content are obvious red flags that the site is not safe to make transactions with. 

In addition, the fine print should be carefully read and review prior to making purchases. Watch out for weird wording or wrong spelling, and grammar mistakes. 

6. Trust your guts 

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The most important thing is to trust your instincts. There are some people who would be willing to ignore disbelief because they saw discounts and believe them to be real. They choose to believe that they’re getting the real deal. 

These people know in the back of their minds that they’re on a website that’s somehow a little less credible. If you are doubting, do some research first and then assess if the website is official or not. It’s not that difficult! Don’t put any of your credit card information if you think that the website is fishy. 

By Adam Smith

Hi, I'm an SEO expert and Outreach blogger.

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