Shopping online seems to be getting easier, as more and more retailers realize that customers want to shop in the comfort of their own home. Unfortunately, some fraudsters use sophisticated methods to commit online shopping fraud and victimize customers.
In 2016, incidences of digital fraud were up by more than 40% over the previous year, showing that more fraudsters are using our wish to shop online to their advantage.i In May 2017, approximately $120,000 Australian dollars were lost when unsuspecting shoppers paid for products online.ii
Ronald Noble, founder of RKN Global, stresses that shoppers should make sure the website they’re wishing to purchase goods from belongs to an established and reputable company.
Some buyers are also falling victim to fraudsters who appear to be selling goods on auction websites such as eBay.iii A victim bids on a product and finds out a little too late that he or she cannot get a refund nor return the purchase.iv Incidents like this make potential buyers less likely to shop on the website again, meaning genuine sellers could lose out.
There are steps that can be taken to make sure everyone is less likely to fall victim. Buyers should be on the lookout for websites that ask for payment via direct bank transfers.v Most websites will ask for payment via PayPal or other secure methods, and all genuine websites should have a payment page with a web address that starts with ‘https’, indicating that the connection is secure.vi
Sometimes fraudsters use classifieds websites to place advertisements.vii Unfortunately, not every advertisement is genuine. Users of classifieds websites should always refrain from making payments until they have received the goods or had the opportunity to inspect them.viii
Another trick that fraudsters use involves them asking potential buyers to visit a different website to complete the sale.ix Authentic and reputable websites would not ask buyers to pay somewhere else.
Buyers can potentially protect themselves from falling victim by checking the sites’ or sellers’ feedback history.x If there are a lot of negative comments, buyers should take this as a warning sign. The same is true if there is no feedback. This is not to say that all new sellers and websites are fraudulent; however if there is no feedback, it is more difficult to determine their authenticity.xi
Buyers can further protect themselves by refusing to buy products that are advertised at a very low price.xii If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Legitimate websites and sellers typically try to get as much money as they can from a sale, while also hoping that the buyer considers the price to be reasonable. There is little reason for a seller or a website to sell a product or products at an excessively low price.
Those who have been scammed, or suspect that they may have been, should contact the retailer in question, or the auction website.xiii In some cases the retailer, for example, may be able to resolve the issue, but in other cases shoppers may find that they have lost their money.
RKN Global’s founder, Ronald K. Noble, urges those who shop online to take care whenever they make a transaction. Looking out for the tell-tale signs that a site may not be genuine could be one of the best ways to prevent shoppers from falling victim.
i“Breaking news in the industry: December 6, 2016”. December 6 2016. LPM Insider. http://losspreventionmedia.com/breaking-news/breaking-news-in-the-industry-december-6-2016/
ii“Online Shopping Scams Statistics”. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/buying-or-selling/online-shopping-scams
iii“Online shopping and auction fraud”. ActionFraud. http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-online-shopping-fraud
iv“Online shopping and auction fraud”. ActionFraud. http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-online-shopping-fraud
v“Online shopping fraud”. National Trading Standards. http://www.tradingstandardsecrime.org.uk/online-shopping-fraud/
vi“Online Shopping Scams Statistics”. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/buying-or-selling/online-shopping-scams
vii“Online Shopping Scams Statistics”. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/buying-or-selling/online-shopping-scams
viii“Online Shopping Scams Statistics”. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/buying-or-selling/online-shopping-scams
ix“Online shopping and aution fraud”. The Little Book of Big Scams. https://www.met.police.uk/globalassets/downloads/fraud/the-little-book-of-big-scams.pdf
x“Online shopping and auction fraud”. ActionFraud. http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-online-shopping-fraud
xi“Online shopping and auction fraud”. ActionFraud. http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-online-shopping-fraud
xii“Online Shopping Scams Statistics”. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/buying-or-selling/online-shopping-scams
xiii“Online Shopping Scams Statistics”. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Scamwatch. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/buying-or-selling/online-shopping-scams