Although shopping online could be very convenient, you should always verify the website from where you are planning to purchase. Unfortunately, many consumers suffer a loss due to internet scams and online fraud.

Scams can come in many forms but are all designed to get hold of your money. With the advances in digital communication, scammers have become more sophisticated to target people and steal money and information. New forms of scams emerge daily, and therefore all consumers should take the necessary precautions to avoid such negative experiences from these cybercriminals. By following the steps in this brochure, you will limit the risk of being a scam victim.

Secure websites have their address starting with HTTPS:// rather than HTTP://. The letter ‘s’ stands for secure. One should also look for the small padlock and press on it to check the details of security. It is of utmost importance to make sure that the computer is protected against viruses and spyware. If a website uses HTTP:// only, that is not a clear indication that the website is a scam. However, it is a signal that you are not protected against hackers when providing your personal details. To be on the safe side, one should never enter personal financial information if a website is not secure.

Study the URL as some fraudulent sites have URLs that look just like those of large brands or companies at first glance before including any of your personal information like your credit card number. Some cybercriminals set up sites with just one letter off from the genuine websites, hoping that you mistype the URL or overlook the intentional spelling mistake.

Never judge a company by the look of the website. Before purchasing, especially if it is the first time and you are in doubt, always check the domain age. You should be aware of websites that have just been set up. It would also be a good idea to read any reviews posted by other consumers to see whether the concerned trader can be trusted or not.

Scrutinize the information found on the website, mainly by reading the information on the homepage or pages dedicated to the company’s statement. If there is an excess of grammatical mistakes, that is indicative that the website was set up in another country and went up quickly. Trusted companies will put extra effort to present a professional website that includes all the required information. 

A reliable website would usually have detailed information about the trader, specifically the company’s address, email, phone number and the date when the company was registered together with the company’s registration number. One should be careful of websites that provide little or hidden information; for example, only an email address is included.

This step is crucial when you are buying online as all legitimate websites should include information on how consumers can lodge a complaint together with the link for the Online Dispute Resolution platform. Online traders should also provide additional information about the EU ODR platform and the link to this platform and specify the trader’s email dedicated to complaints submitted within this platform. Furthermore, the trader should also inform the consumers about any cooling-off rights, during which the consumer can cancel the order without incurring any penalty.

Before making the final decision to purchase the object, the consumer must remember that any payment should be made through secure means such as a credit card or other online payment systems. Unless you precisely know the receiver, avoid sending payments through bank transfers. Credit Card details should never, in any circumstances, be sent by email. Consumer needs to be also aware of the terms and conditions, which are usually written in smaller text.

There might indeed be stores that offer huge discounts. These discounts could be because it is the last item, old stock, or the store is closing its doors. However, finding a considerable discount, sometimes even 80%, on newly released products is challenging. Stay away from these websites, as the chances are that you will end up without the product purchased and the money paid.

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