The e-commerce industry saw a huge rise during the pandemic as we were largely stuck at home. And since it’s so convenient to buy stuff without even lifting ourselves off the couch, we can assume that we will keep doing that despite shops being open. There is just one issue — the more popular and widely-used something gets, the more malefactors start using this thing to fool people. This is what happens to online shopping — more and more scams emerge, and new ones are way trickier and harder to detect.
Scammers are now going after not just buyer’s money but information, too. Data allows hackers to impersonate the victim to then reach other malicious goals. So today, we should protect not just money but information as well.
The good news is that we can protect ourselves. However, it can be hard, especially for not very tech-savvy people. But we will do our best to help you in this journey.
To quickly give you some guidelines, here are measures you can take to protect yourself:
- Use a VPN app. iNinja is a free VPN app that will hide your IP address and encrypt your data
- Create strong passwords for your accounts
- Use Google or Apple Pay, or another service that allows you to not enter your bank card details to make a purchase
- Evaluate a new e-commerce site critically and attentively read the shipping and return rules. It’s best to also find any testimonials about this online shop
Why it’s so easy to trick people with shopping scams?
Mostly it’s simple to do because when we’re excited to treat ourselves or our close people with something, we tend to forget about all the safety rules as we rush to the checkout process. Also, modern scams are more subtle and thus hard to detect, especially if we’re not aware of these methods.
Lately, scammers aim for luxury and expensive items more than for cheaper things. There is logic in it — we’re less likely to think that we will get scammed when we’re buying something that’s not an everyday thing to buy. Also, since for quite a while we all are so focused on our health, malefactors aim for supplements and over-the-counter meds. Mostly, they either bump up the prices or sell “empty” pills while advertising them as some super magical supplement that will solve all our health and life issues.
Finally, scammers still go the old and tested way of selling cheap knock-offs of famous brands. But only experienced buyers will know that this is a fake product — others will believe they got a great deal.
How to detect scams?
There are different approaches, as you’ve noticed. Let’s see the details now.
The offer is too good
If what you see seems too good to be true, most likely, your gut feeling is right. Sure, online stores offer appealing deals to attract buyers. But no sane seller will give you a discount of more than, say, 70%. Especially, if we’re talking about some popular or new product.
So each time you stumble upon a great deal that seems to be unrealistic — stop and think if it’s a scam. Because most likely it is. You can google the name of this store or try calling them — the chances are high that you’ll find something weird about it.
Phishing is always here
Phishing has different faces. It can be a fake website — if you look closely, you’ll see that the URL has some mistakes in it or just isn’t written the way a URL of a real website is. Also, you might get a fake email right after making a purchase. The email will ask you either for payment or for some additional personal info — so always look at the sender’s email and the link attached to the email. And don’t download any files. Such fake messages can arrive through SMS and messengers, too. So be attentive about that.
Sellers on social media
Sure, social media is a powerful tool for e-commerce. And many small brands don’t even have a website — they sell directly through social media. But there are many scammers, too. So always read comments and look for reviews to determine if it’s a real seller. Also, it’s helpful to google the pictures of products to see if the images are stolen from real websites.
It’s not only your money that’s at risk
We’ve said it before and we want to repeat this thought. You risk not just your money, but your data, too. And while losing money is not pleasant, losing information will bring you way more issues. As we order something, we provide the seller with our address and often — credit card data to pay for goods. If this data gets stolen, we can lose way more money and our physical safety will be threatened as well.
That’s why we strongly advise using a VPN app for Android, iOS, and desktop devices to hide as much data as possible. Also, be careful when buying from a new site, and try to give the seller as little information as you can. For example, if you can pay with Google or Apple Pay or some other service so that you don’t share your bank card data — do that. If you can ask for a delivery to the closest post office instead of your home — do that for first-time orders to make sure you’re safe.
Our safety is in our hands. With the iNinja VPN app and our tips, you will reliably protect yourself from scammers.