Avoid these common online shopping scams this festive season


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Online shopping scams aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, they keep evolving to keep pace with the evolution of technology and security features for online platforms.

Though security features for online shopping platforms continue to improve, some common scams continue to be successful for scammers. Avoiding these requires shoppers to play a role in securing their own money and data when shopping online.

We know it’s cliche, but it’s a cliche for good reason — if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Check the link

“Just like that guy who broke your auntie’s heart in ’07, these scammers usually appear to be the real deal, rip you off, then disappear in a flash,” says Lianne Williams from Vuma, South Africa’s fibre connectivity provider.
Make sure the URL of the website you’re buying from is a secure E-commerce platform.

Read More: Crypto scams will increase over the holidays – here’s what you need to know to not fall victim

A website’s URL needs to have a Hypertext transfer protocol secure (https) at the beginning, especially the ‘s’ in ‘https’ which lets you know that the data transferred between your device’s web browser and the seller is secured. If the website you’re shopping on only has Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) or any other protocol, it is probably not safe for you to drop your personal and banking details into it.

Some links may be credible, but include unprotected links within the secure link. When shopping, avoid clicking on random links that might send you from the secure one you’re already on to one without the security features. Souble-check the link with every click you make.

Read More: How to avoid getting hooked by a festive season phishing scam

Review the store

It might seem like a tedious task, but you should read the reviews about the website you’re buying from before you commit. E-commerce stores with a good track record often indicate that you won’t have scamming or service issues. Also, remember to leave a review for the next buyer.

If it’s too good to be true… well…

If a product you’re trying to buy seems way too cheaper on a particular website, it’s probably too good to be true. Retailers are able to give discounts but only up to a point. If the price is ridiculously lower, it’s probably a fake version of an authentic product, or the product simply isn’t there for the retailer to send to you once they’ve got your money.

Don’t give too much away

Don’t give too much information to online retailers, especially personal info that may have nothing or little to do with the transaction.

“If you find a promotion for a gift card deal and they start asking you too many questions, especially about your banking details or ID, cut your losses and run,” says Williams.

Avoid phishing by criminals who often send emails and text messages to lure you into clicking on links that contain malware. There is information that banks will not request from you via text messages or email. These include your banking PIN, one-time password, and confidential personal information about your accounts.

Read More: Email scams are getting more personal – they even fool cybersecurity experts

Cookies and Policies

Reading terms and conditions is a pain, but it’s worth doing if you’re about to send your money off to a retailer. Read the retailer’s policy to make sure that you get the service and product you’re expecting.

Website cookies

Some websites use cookies to track your online activity, and some continue to track your activity long after you’ve closed the website where you accepted the cookies’ terms and conditions. Though most cookies are safe, cybersecurity and anti-virus provider Kaspersky says criminals can gain access to some legitimate cookies and track your movements online.

Read More: Browser cookies make people more cautious online, study finds

“Cookies let websites remember you, your website logins, shopping carts, and more. But they can also be a treasure trove of private info for criminals to spy on,” says Kaspersky. Find out the kind of information that the website collects and if you’re comfortable sharing information that may be collected, even if it has nothing to do with our particular transaction.

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