By Emily Alvarenga
Senior Signal Editor
No one is safe from scams, not even Nathan Grant, senior credit industry analyst at Credit Card Insider, who tells the story of a time he was cheated online by a change site. address.
“I just Google ‘free change of address’ and… clicked on the first link that came up that looked completely legitimate,” Grant said. “There were the US Postal Service logos and everything, but it ended up being a scam site.”
Although the site did provide the service, it charged Grant $ 45, rather than the $ 1 it advertised.
“So you wouldn’t be wiser if you weren’t careful with your transactions,” Grant added.
With the holiday season just around the corner, it’s almost guaranteed that many of us will be going online to do some of our holiday shopping.
Over the years, the internet has revolutionized the way people shop, allowing items to arrive at your doorstep days later with just a few clicks.
It has also led to an increase in the number of scammers, with shoppers being scammed every day online.
Along with the increase in online shopping is also an increase in credit card fraud, which has become one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft, according to Grant.
Find trusted websites to buy from
“Scammers look for every opportunity to try to scam people,” Grant said, adding that there are ways to avoid getting scammed by bogus sites.
When shopping online, there are a few things you can look for to make sure that a website is secure and legitimate, including HTTPS, rather than HTTP, in the website URL as the S stands for secure which means that the site has secure encryption, or a padlock symbol to the left of the address bar also means the site is secure.
Online shoppers should create unique passwords when creating accounts to prevent hackers from accessing multiple accounts using the same login information.
Additionally, buyers must use secure networks to shop, as hackers can spy on public wifi networks and intercept financial data.
Beware of untrustworthy ‘drop shippers’
Have you ever bought something online just so it looks nothing like the photos and description when it arrives?
This is called “drop-shipping” and it has become one of the most common ways for people to get ripped off while shopping online.
Amazon, for example, doesn’t just sell its own products. It also allows small businesses to sell items in its marketplace, which they call “third party sellers” – some of whom are not as reliable.
Scammers on sites like this often steal photos and ad descriptions of a real seller, creating their own ads selling the same product for a fraction of the price, and then shipping shoddy products instead.
Worse yet, you often cannot return the product as many of these third-party sellers do not offer the same return policy as Amazon, nor do they offer refunds.
However, there are ways to avoid getting scammed by drop shippers like reading reviews as no reviews or negative reviews can often be a warning sign, beware of long delivery times as this Usually indicates that the products are shipped from China, or check the return policy before making any purchases.
On Amazon, choosing the ‘Amazon Prime only’ option may also exclude scammers, as third-party sellers who use Amazon Prime must adhere to Amazon’s terms and conditions, including free shipping and no-questions-asked refunds for the returns. Buyers should compare sellers when shopping when there are multiple sellers with the same product, looking for the one with the best reviews.
Think about your payment method
A good first line of defense to ensure that your card information has not been stolen is to keep an eye on your online statements, and while there is no guarantee that you will not be a victim. of a scam, which payment method to use can help. get your money back if you do.
Using a credit card rather than a debit card, which is linked to your real bank account with your real money, is a suggestion.
Once the money is withdrawn from your debit account, that money will disappear until the fraud investigation is resolved, which can take weeks, while credit cards use up the borrowed credit and have protections. integrated.
Online shoppers should also consider taking advantage of third-party apps, like Paypal, which protect your payment information and provide protections for buyers when paying on new sites.
Mobile and digital wallets, like Apple Pay and Google Pay, can also be more secure because they also encrypt your data, using tokenization to replace sensitive data on your card with a string of letters and numbers that don’t have no meaning outside of the transaction that produced them. .