How to Avoid Online Scams

Online shopping has increased during COVID-19 and along with it, cyber attacks. Therefore, it is important to take into account some issues to avoid getting scammed. Read on to find more information about online scams and how to report them.

It’s not a surprise that people choose to shop online. This way of commercialising is very useful thanks to the wide variety of available products and the speed at which they are delivered. To get whatever your mind might dream of, you only have to access an online sales page, look for the product you want to buy, then pay by credit card and finally, wait for it to arrive at your home or local post office.

Online shopping has been on the rise during quarantine, which has led to an increase in cyber attacks, such as fake emails and ads to steal your personal and financial data. Therefore, when buying online, it is important to consider some factors to avoid scams.

How to Protect Yourself from Online Scammers

Below, you will find some factors that you have to consider when shopping online:

  • Make sure the website is secure

To find out if a website is secure, make sure that the browser shows a closed padlock symbol. This means that your navigation is protected and your data is not public.

  • Know who you’re dealing with

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) specifies that anyone can set up an online shop under almost any name. Confirm the online seller’s physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems. And if you get an email or pop-up message that asks for your financial information while you’re browsing, don’t reply or follow the link. Legitimate companies don’t ask for information that way.

  • Read Opinions From Other Clients 

Another important aspect to consider when buying online is to read customer reviews. Generally, customers tend to rate sellers and comment their experience with them. This will help you decide whether or not you can trust in the seller.

  • Use Credit Cards for Stronger Consumer Protection

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) specifies that if you are buying or selling something online, you should try not to deal in payments of cash or non-bank money transfers. If making a transfer try and make sure it is from one bank to another as this makes it easier to trace. A bank draft is safer than a cheque as drafts must be paid for upfront and there is less chance of them being forged or that they will bounce.

  • Check Your Bank Account Regularly for Suspicious Activity

It is important to regularly check on your bank accounts to verify that you are aware of all the transactions that have taken place. If you see any suspicious bank transactions, contact your bank immediately.

Further Recommendations

Many scammers take advantage of people’s vulnerability and anxiety in Coronavirus times. The Federal Trade Commission also provides these extra recommendations that you can apply in order to avoid getting scammed by phone, email or advertising:

  • Hang up the phone on pre-recorded automated calls. Do not press any numbers. Scammers are using pre-recorded automated calls to promote everything from fraudulent Coronavirus treatments to work at home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will allow you to talk to a live operator or remove your number from the call list, but instead, it might generate more pre-recorded automated calls.
  • Ignore offers of vaccines and test kits that appear on the Internet. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products online or in stores that are not clinically proven to treat or prevent COVID-19.
  • Check the information. Scammers, and sometimes people with good intentions, share information that has not been verified. Before passing on any message, contact reliable sources.
  • Don’t respond to emails or text messages regarding government checks. Anyone who tells you they can get you money now is a con artist.
  • Don’t click on links to sources you don’t know about. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or from experts who say they have information about the virus. For up-to-date information on the coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • When it comes to donations, either through charities or money collection sites, do a little research. Don’t let anyone rush you into donating. If someone wants you to donate with cash, through a gift card or a money transfer, don’t do it.
What to Do If You Get Scammed

If you think you have been the victim of fraudulent activity, you should report the matter to your local Garda station immediately.

It’s a fact that online shopping has increased during quarantine. However, it is also true that scammers take advantage of the people who are most vulnerable and anxious about Coronavirus. That is why it’s important to know what to do in order to avoid falling into their nets and getting scammed. What do you think about online scams? Do you have any other tips on how to avoid them? Let us know in the comments section!

Lucía Ramírez
Lucía Ramírez

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