The coronavirus has led to scams, including online Covid-19 shopping scams. Stay-at-home and social distancing orders have made it necessary for most people to turn to online shopping. Online, they buy utilities, groceries, and anything else they need. More people are now shopping with retailers they have never dealt with before, and in some cases using delivery services they do not know.
While the surge of e-commerce is a great development, online Covid-19 shopping scams have also increased significantly. Here are some common COVID-19 online scams you should watch out for:
Criminals post fake ads on social media sites and websites, especially for products in high demand during the pandemic, such as medications, test kits, and hygiene products.
In most cases, when customers purchase from these scam sites, they will share their personal information and never receive their order. Some criminals, however, might send you harmful or low-quality products.
Most online shopping scams require you to pay in advance; therefore, you will also lose the money you pay for the order and delivery service.
In delivery scams, the scammer will send you a text or email about delivering a product to your address. The message also includes a “tracking” link that you should click on to track your delivery or update your delivery and/or payment preferences.
The link is likely to lead you to a website that requires you to enter your personal information or download malicious software into your device.
Some of these scammers might leave a voicemail message with a call back number, or a note on your door with the number you should call.
You should never click on such links or call back those numbers, as they are almost certainly from scammers, even if they seem legitimate.
If they do sound legitimate to you, call the delivery service directly with the official contact information they have provided on their website.
Some common warning signs that you are dealing with a delivery scam include:
- Urgent and unexpected requests for money, in return for delivering a package
- Requests for financial and/or personal information
- Links to websites with misspelled or slightly changed website addresses
- Spelling and grammatical errors (and other telltale signs such as excessive capitalization and exclamation marks)
Gift Sharing Scams
Other scams online encourage you to join a gift exchange where you send a gift to another person who you may or may not know from a list the scammers provide. However, the goal of this scam is to steal your gifts or personal information.
Free Groceries Scam
Another scam related to online shopping involves a scammer sending a message claiming that the recipient won groceries of a certain value from a well-known retailer. However, you would have to provide your information for you to get the groceries.
You should not respond to such messages, but you should report them to consumer protection agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission.
In addition to keeping yourself safe from the virus, you also have to watch out for online shopping scams to ensure you are not a victim.
RKN Global emphasizes the importance of peoples’ protecting themselves online. Protecting yourself online means you should be careful whenever shopping, especially when sharing your payment information. Here are some tips to keep yourself safe from online scams:
- Always do your research when dealing with online retailers. Search online for reviews, scams, and complaints related to the retailer or delivery company you are about to deal with.
- Only buy from licensed and verified sellers
- Use legitimate websites that offer secure payment options
- When purchasing from a new retailer, choose the pay on delivery option or look for another seller