Protect yourself from fraud when shopping online

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Our quality of life has improved by leaps and bounds due to the constant connection to the Internet. From booking a table and buying movie tickets to meeting friends who live far away and finding the perfect gifts, the internet offers a wealth of opportunities. However, in addition to the benefits, there are also numerous threats lurking online.

The internet can be a grim place where virtual thieves can steal your money, password, and even your identity. One of the biggest problems facing online fraud is e-commerce fraud. From credit card fraud to fraudulent returns, e-commerce fraud affects consumers in most cases.

Ecommerce Fraud

According to an RSA estimate, losses related to e-commerce fraud will rise to nearly $ 6.4 million by 2018, nearly doubling the current numbers. Understanding the signs of ecommerce scams is extremely important in order to protect yourself and your finances.

The most common e-commerce scenarios include credit card fraud, identity theft, chargebacks, and fraudulent returns. These affect both consumers and retailers. Warning signs that indicate potential fraud include orders placed in the middle of the night, PO Box addresses, items placed outside of the country for sale, express shipping, use of free / anonymous email address providers, high order totals and cases in which the delivery address differs from the billing address.

Here are some of the ways consumers can protect themselves from e-commerce fraud:

  • Use secure websites for shopping
  • Research the website before placing an order
  • Read the website’s privacy and security guidelines
  • Pay attention to cookies
  • Never give the social security number

Merchants can reduce fraud by:

  • Check cardholder information
  • Use transaction controls
  • Maintain an internal negative list
  • Implement a transaction data field

Online auction fraud

In 2005, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center Report , 62.7 percent of all incidents reported as Internet fraud involved online auctions. And those numbers only keep increasing. Although many users have very good experiences with online auctions, others experience fraud in this area: They receive damaged or misrepresented goods and their bank account details are tapped.

Before you bid, you should do a thorough research of the auction website, product, and seller. Read the terms and conditions and service agreement carefully and review the feedback other buyers have given about the seller and its items. Also, be sure to read the fine print and make sure the seller has a return policy in place.

Most auctions accept PayPal, credit cards, or personal checks. However, the safest way to pay for an item online is through an external payment service provider.

Another point to look out for: does the seller let you know the item is in a certain location and then ask you to send payment to an entirely different location? This often means the highest level of alert.

Fake websites

Fake websites are used in other scams that are making the rounds on the Internet . These websites are similar to legitimate e-commerce websites – with believable logos, images, and payment options. The following tips can help you make sure a website is reputable:

  • Check that the URL is legitimate.
  • If prices are extremely low or discounts of over 55 percent are offered, it may be unrealistic.
  • Check the copyright and domain creation dates.
  • Do not make purchases on „young” websites.

While there are many scammers on the Internet, both consumers and merchants can prevent becoming a victim of fraud in e-commerce by being careful and vigilant. If you are ever affected by online fraud, it is important to report it to the police immediately.