Online shopping scams are becoming much more prevalent in the last few years. Here is how to help protect yourself.

Online shopping scams involve scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers. Usually, this takes the form of either with a fake website or a fake ad on a genuine retail site.

More than half the Australian population shopped online during 2020. Covid lockdowns exposed more people to the world of online shopping than ever before! This article hopes to serve as refresher for the experienced and a warning to those new to online shopping.

How this scam works

There are a few methods/variations, but scam works by luring you in with an online listing making false promises about the product or price. The aim being to get you to agree to pay via both legitimate or illegitimate means. The scammer usually only operates the online store or listing for a short time, shutting down quickly to avoid being traced by authorities.

Warning signs

  • Unbelievably low price
  • ‘Limited offers’ or end-of-sale ‘countdowns’
  • No customer reviews on google/facebook or other search engines.
  • Missing privacy policies, terms and conditions or refund information.

Protect Yourself

  • Pay with a reputable online payment system (e.g. PayPal). These systems usually have some form of buyer protection for low value purchases (example here.) Whilst your credit card/debit card should give you some protection (your circumstances may vary) on disputes, there is high chance you need to replace your card.
  • Check the reviews via Google Merchant Services (Google the business and look at the reviews) or similar before purchase.
  • If the store asks you to create an account, make sure you use strong and unique passwords, don’t repeat the same password as banking or other accounts.

If you been scammed?

  • Dispute the transaction through your bank or through the payment system.
  • Report the scam via the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
  • Change your passwords and PINs straight away if you suspect your security has been compromised.

Do you or your employees want to learn more about Cyber Security? Ask about our course on the subject here.