Online Shopping: How to spot a scam?

The Federal Trade Commission received 2.2M fraud reports in 2020, and online shopping scam ranked second among the common fraud experienced by consumers. In this article, we’ll talk about the things we think you should be aware of when shopping online.

For instance, it’s always easier to spot a shopping scam if you know the traits to look for. Here are the 4 common red flags to avoid falling as a victim to online shopping scam:

  1. check that URL
    Before you start adding items to your cart, make sure that the website you are visiting begins with “https” and has the security padlock next to it. This means the website is secure and any transactions made on this portal is encrypted. If the online retail store only has “http” on it, encryption is not in use. Therefore, attackers may intercept information that you provide to this site, including your credit card details that can lead to credit card fraud.
  2. Deals that are too good to be true
    An item on sale seems tempting, especially for those hunting for bargains. Don’t complete the transaction just yet! Scams often present offers that are too good to be true. Be cautious of ads that make outlandish claims enticing you to click, which end up being routed to a malicious website that’ll ask for personal information and credit card details. There are instances where scammers will use ads that showcase unbelievable discount on popular items, but has a link to download a malware that’ll infect the device you use.
    Scammers can also spoof real phone numbers and email addresses of banks and retailers to send promotion thru SMS or email that appears real. Don’t just assume they are legitimate. It is safer not to click on any links on SMS or email you receive immediately. Instead, use a web browser to access the website directly.
  3. Sale countdown
    Adding a little urgency to ads and promotion can have positive conversion rates on sale. Countdown timers are often used as business strategy to show the start and end of the sale to persuade consumers to make the purchase right away, or they might miss out on the sale. Retailers also set limited numbers to be sold for hot items, leading consumer to think that supply is scarce. Most eCommerce businesses do this during the busiest retail months online, namely Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas gifting season. This gives cybercriminals a perfect opportunity to disguise as the real deal and commit scam.
  4. Non-secure payment
    Scammers will ask you to pay thru a non-secure payment methods, such as wire transfer, money order, pre-loaded gift cards, or Bitcoin. These methods are difficult to track and they’re impossible to ask for refund. Always look for secure payment options like Apple Pay or PayPal. Most online retailers today work with secure payment gateways to ensure customer data is not compromised.
    Additionally, use your credit card when shopping online, and not your debit card. Your credit card has a spending limit and disputes on charges can be filed to your bank. On the other hand, your debit card has your actual money that when compromised, might just wipe up your savings. Therefore, it is best to avoid using debit cards when making purchases online.

The solution is Check!

Honestly, you don’t need to be technically savvy to recognize these common schemes. There are some popular search engine tools that can scan websites and place a warning if it is malicious or infected with a malware. One very useful (and free!) tool we found online is Trend Micro Check.
The tool can detect fraud from different means of distribution of scams and misinformation like text messages and emails. Giveaways sent thru SMS are common scams to steal personal data, which can be validated by it in real time. If you are getting strange emails very often, your email may be part of a data breach that was leaked to scammers. Trend Micro Check can help identify if your account was compromised so you can change your password immediately.
From now on, use Trend Micro Check to verify the links and product offerings before you start shopping online!