How to stay safe and avoid the pitfalls of online shopping
Online shopping has opened up a world of convenience for busy consumers. Being able to purchase goods with the click of a mouse is much more convenient, you don’t have to worry about bad weather, wrestling with getting kids into the car and then trying to keep them happy during the long drive to and from the department store and many other benefits.
However, just like the real world, the world of online shopping is not without hazards. Here are some of the most common shopping dangers, and some tips on how to keep yourself and your family safer – both personally and financially.
Online shopping dangers
Online shopping is a relatively new concept, and with any new endeavour involving money, criminals will always find ways to take advantage.
A common email scam, phishing is a fake email with instructions to reset your password or making you a special offer. The point of the scam is to get your account information. Banner ads and fake websites are also used to trap unsuspecting consumers.
How to prevent it: When shopping online, go directly to the site of choice – don’t click on any links you get via email, or IM messages from friends, even if you’re fairly certain they’re legitimate.
Passwords can be cracked, wireless networks compromised, and your personal information made vulnerable, all while shopping online.
How to prevent it: Use secure passwords and change them often. If you detect any suspicious activity, update your antivirus/anti-malware software. Use secure passwords, change them often and run a system check-up that will provide an overall system security status for your computer.
While the larger online retailers are generally reputable, anyone with a bit of technical know-how can set up an e-commerce site and sell goods. Even online reviews can be faked, making it easy for scammers to cheat unwary customers.
How to prevent it: Always shop from the most reputable online retailers and watch out for imitators or suspicious-looking websites. Only trust your money to online stores with a long history and good reputation.
Real-world shopping hazards
Even if you don’t buy online, there are still ways for criminals to steal from you in the real world. Be wary of the following scams.
A form of phishing (a form of email scam), “smishing” scams take the form of an SMS or text message on your phone, usually declaring you a winner of a shopping spree, coupon, or other too-good-to-be-true offer.
Smishers also frequently send fake “notifications” of compromised bank or PayPal accounts and ask you to “reset” your username and password via phone. Once they have your account info, your account may as well be theirs.
How to prevent it: Be wary of any number, text or call that you don’t recognize, and call or contact your financial institution directly instead of calling back a strange number.
Credit Card Theft
Credit card theft doesn’t always take the form of missing cards or huge, easy-to-spot charges. A common scam in recent years is for thieves to get hold of your credit or debit card numbers and make an ongoing series of very small charges to your account – usually less than a dollar – under bogus corporate names. The thieves are banking on you not bothering to find out what these charges are, or contact your bank about them.
How to prevent it: Carefully go over your bills each month, and keep an eye out for any unusual or unrecognized charges. Notify your bank or credit card company immediately if you spot anything suspicious.
Not all real-world shopping dangers are high-tech. Pickpocketing, purse snatching, and theft from cars are all still a common occurrence, especially around holidays, where busy shoppers are distracted and likely to let their awareness slip.
How to prevent it: Keep a firm grasp on your purse or bag at all times. Avoid shopping alone or at night, if possible. Always keep your car locked, and store gifts and goods in the trunk, or at least out of sight.
immago can help your business stay safe
It’s not just customers who fall foul of scam artists, it’s businesses too.
A company’s reputation can be damaged if their customers lose money trying to buy from them – even if it’s nothing to do with that company.
If someone tries to buy your latest fashion designs, but ends up with dodgy counterfeit goods from an online scam, they’re going to associate that negative experience with you, whether you like it or not.
Avoiding these types of scams isn’t just about being tech-savvy, it’s about having a large support network to back you up.
Here at immago, we have a large network and supply chain, with combined decades of experience and knowledge, all to help you in those tough situations. There is strength in numbers, and when you join us, you’re also joining our extended family.
Contact us today if you would like to know more about what immago can do to keep both you and your customers safe online.