Online shopping fraud is on the rise. As the COVID-19 pandemic has decreased the footfall to brick-and-mortar stores, shoppers from across the globe are relying on eCommerce to get hands-on with their favorite products and items.
This also means there are more opportunities than ever for online scammers to facilitate fraudulent activities. Here’s a quick guide to why online shopping fraud is increasing and how to prevent fraud online shopping.
Why Are Frauds Increasing?
We’re not talking about the motivation behind online shopping frauds here because it’s more or less the same always. Money. Fraudulent activities enable scammers to get hold of a substantial amount of money that would’ve otherwise required a lot of effort and hard work.
But what we’re actually talking about is how online shoppers have emerged as the prime target for scammers. Online frauds are not a new thing. They date back to 1994 when eCommerce started. Scammers stole credit cards with popular personalities’ names on it.
But in the early 21st century, scammers inclined towards the banking and financial sector, and rightly so. It’s the money market, and hence, offers the most money-making opportunities. But online shopping fraud statistics suggest that recently, the banking and finance industry has adopted cutting-edge security to fill up most of its loopholes. Though loopholes exist, they are difficult to exploit.
Hence, scammers have shifted to eCommerce again, an industry that has a drastically high volume but lacks robust security. This enables fraudsters to commit several kinds of fraud, such as credit card fraud, identity theft, merchant fraud, and the like. Also, people are now more inclined to shop online for everything from furniture to groceries.
The Federal Trade Commission has recognized online shopping fraud statistics stating that millennial consumers have lost over $450 million to fraudsters over the last two years, $71 million of which was lost in online shopping fraud. Several factors contribute to the rise of scams. Insecure international payments are a reason. The lack of awareness among shoppers is another crucial factor that has contributed to the surge in online fraud.
How to Avoid the Risk of Fraud?
You can take several steps to alleviate the risk of fraud in online shopping. But the internet is a cryptic, mysterious, and devious place, and no matter how many security measures you take, the risk of fraud will remain. That said, you can certainly take measures to reduce the risk. Also, the latter half of this section sheds light on the steps you should take if, by chance, you fall victim to online fraud.
Shop from a Secured Site
The first thing you should check when shopping online is whether the site is secured. The easiest way to do so is to look for the “HTTPS” prefix in the URL. If the site has “HTTP” and not “HTTPS,” it means the site isn’t secure and encrypted. Hence, it’s not safe to share your payment information like credit card details on it.
Another indicator is the key or lock pad icon on the left side of the URL. If there is a lock or key icon, the site is secured. But if it doesn’t, or if it has an “exclamation mark” icon, the site is insecure.
However, keep in mind that many scammers use “HTTPS” in their URL to lure shoppers into shopping from them. So, don’t consider it as a bottom line. Always examine the URL to ensure it’s the original site. Many scammers create sites with similar names to original sites (amazon.com vs. amozan.com). Some also change the domain address (amazon.com vs. amazon.Club). The sites have an identical design and interface, so getting confused is not impossible.
Even if the site is secured, it doesn’t mean it’s reliable. New eCommerce businesses have stunning websites and lucrative offers. But since they’re new, they might not be able to fulfill what they’ve promised. Though we should call it “default” instead of a scam, but you lost your money anyway.
So, it’s better to stick to reliable websites like Desertcart and Amazon. Not only do you get myriad product options to choose from, but you also receive a stamp of trust that your product will be delivered to you as promised.
We all want discounts. How many times have you found yourself searching for tricks to get iPhone 12 Pro for 250 AED? Discount fraud is one of the most common online shopping scams. These fraudulent online shopping websites look identical to sites like Amazon and Etsy, and they have offers that are too good to be true. When you shop from them, they either send you duplicate products, and they don’t send anything at all and just keep your money.
Now, here’s what you can do if you fall victim to online fraud.
Call Your Bank or Credit Card
You’ll receive a message as soon as a transaction is processed from your bank account. If you haven’t made any purchase and still received a message, call your bank or credit card company immediately and report the unauthorized transaction. The company will, therefore, cease your bank or credit card to prevent any future transactions.
File a Complaint
Now, file a complaint. Many marketplaces like eBay and Amazon have a dedicated feature to file fraud complaints. If the site doesn’t, you can contact the site directly. If the merchant doesn’t respond, you can take the matter to the police and court, as well.
Get Your Money Back
Don’t lose hope. There are policies and laws that work towards providing you your money back. So stay patient, follow all the necessary steps as discussed, and expect your money to return to your bank account.
Avoiding the risk of fraud in online shopping boils down to one simple rule. Being aware. Online shoppers need to be smart, informed, and alert. When always doing online shopping for fashion and all sorts of items, be on the lookout for any signs that indicate a potential risk of fraud. This could be an unrealistic offer, an unsecured site, the lack of untagged images, and the list goes on.