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12 Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed When Shopping Online

In our busy world, there's no time to spare, and internet shopping is becoming more and more popular. This is convenient, for sure, but the risk of getting not what you ordered is much higher too. Just imagine your feelings when you order a tank top for yourself but get a cool sweatshirt for your cat. That's why everyone should be aware of the dangers of online shopping.

Bright Side collected the most useful tips that you need to know to shop online safely.

1. Check the identity of the seller.

Whenever shopping online, always check the website for contact details to verify if it really exists. Things that need to be clearly mentioned are the name of the company, the address, the email address, a contact form, and a telephone number. Don't trust any website just because it has a European or American extension – it doesn't mean that it's necessarily located in that country.

2. Always check the reviews.

There is a clear reason behind the fact that the biggest online sellers, such as eBay, have a feedback section. This is done so that new consumers can make sure they are dealing with a trustworthy person or company and that previous sales were conducted without problems. So make sure you get a clear opinion based on reviews before you buy something online.

3. Don't give out too much information.

The only information an online purchase should require is your credit card details, address, and phone number. If the website asks you for anything additional, like your social security number, you should be suspicious.

4. Ask for tagged photos.

When making an online purchase, there's always the risk that the photo of the item doesn't belong to the seller and was just taken from the internet. And when you receive your purchase, it may be totally different from what you expected. A solution here is to ask the seller to send you a tagged photo. This could be a piece of paper with their name and today's date or anything else you ask for. If they won't do this, it's a big reason for you to suspect that something is not right.

5. Make purchases only on secure websites.

Don't trust websites that don't have a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. You can check it a few ways: a padlock symbol should appear in the address bar of your browser, and the first letters in the address bar should change from "http" to "https," especially when you reach the payment stage.

6. Check your statements regularly.

You should check the electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts regularly instead of waiting until the physical bill arrives. This is important in order to control any fraudulent charges and take immediate action by calling your bank or card issuer.

7. Research the general layout of the website.

Check out the website of the seller thoroughly in order to make sure it looks professional. Most fake websites look rather strange: they have spelling mistakes, low-quality pictures of the products, etc. And be aware of the excessive use of words like "cheap" and "outlet" – professional sellers call such things "great deals."

8. Read the website's privacy policy.

Companies that have a good reputation always have a page on their website about their privacy policy. It's very important to research this to make sure the company will use your details only for the purchase and nothing else. Even the most trustworthy companies can use your email for advertisement reasons, and some may pass your details to 3rd parties.

9. Check your consumer rights on the trader's website.

Online sellers have to provide you with clear and correct information about your rights as a consumer. For example, your right to a 14-day return or a legal warranty of at least 2 years. If the trader has nothing like this mentioned on their website, consider not buying anything from there.

10. Don't buy if it looks too good to be true.

Everything in our world has its price. If an item on an online shopping website is too cheap, you should suspect something. Of course, it's possible that there are big sales. However, if the retailer is not popular and has no reputation, don't take a risk because this is the main way that fraudsters attract your attention. You should definitely be aware if the picture of an item doesn't seem to belong to the seller because, again, the price may be appropriate for the low-quality or counterfeit item you will receive.

11. Pay with a secured means of payment.

When you pay for something online, you should follow these 3 golden rules:

  • Always pay on a page that is secured (displaying a padlock or key logo and with a URL address beginning with "https").
  • Pay by credit card if possible as you may be able to recover your money from the credit card issuer in case of fraud.
  • Completely avoid direct money transfers (such as Western Union, MoneyGram, etc).

12. Always use recorded delivery.

First of all, recorded delivery provides you with a tracking number in case you're away when your purchase is delivered, if it got lost, etc. It also requires a signature upon delivery, so you can prove if it was received by you or not. Everything is perfectly covered with recorded delivery, so why not use it?

Have you ever been scammed when shopping online? Share your stories in the comments so that others be warned!

Preview photo credit Knock Off Nightmares/Facebook
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