Online Shopping Fraud Prevention Tips

With Black Friday sales just gone and Christmas fast approaching, it’s a timely reminder for Australians shopping online to take extra care as the nasty scammers will be out in force.

With eight out of ten Australians now shopping online, it’s a convenient and low-stress way to avoid the crowds and Christmas shopping centre madness. However, you do need to navigate an increasingly dangerous cyber security minefield.

We’ve put together our top Online Shopping Fraud Prevention Tips to minimise the chances of your Christmas being spoiled by an online scam.

1. Is the Website Secure?

Examine the URL of the website you plan to purchase from. Is the website URL of the e-commerce store a secure HTTPS URL or an HTTP URL?

HTTPS means any information you enter into the website such as a user name, password and credit card details will be encrypted and protected from interception or eavesdropping by malicious parties.

2. Know your seller

Ideally it’s best to stick to well-known trusted brands and cross-check information on their website to make sure you’re dealing with the official seller and not a scammer trying to impersonate the brand. You can also:

  • Search reviews from other customers.
  • Read the fine print including warranty, refund, complaints handling, as well as privacy policies, to find out how your information will be used.

3. Is the site reliable?

If you are not familiar with the seller’s brand or URL, there are numerous ways to identify whether a website is reliable or possibly a scam:

  • If you are shopping from an unknown store, check the ‘Contact’ page details to confirm whether the address, phone number etc., are real or fake.
  • Does this site receive positive Google reviews, or have others you know purchased from this company?
  • Look out for other red flags such as bad grammar and spelling errors
  • Does the website URL match the company name, or does it look suspicious?

4. Be wary of email scams

  • Never click on links in emails. Instead, enter the site by entering their URL into your browser. Don’t fall for a clever fake site pretending to be a genuine store.
  • Avoid opening attachment offers in an email. The offer should always be a link within an email, not an attachment.

5. Online Auction transactions

A common auction scam is when cybercriminals claim the winner of an auction that you bid on has pulled out, and offer the item to you for payment outside the auction site. Once you’ve paid, you won’t hear from them again and the auction site won’t be able to help you.

  • Always make your transaction within the auction website and avoid private contact with buyers or sellers.

6. Never use a debit card

Purchase online with a credit card, or ideally through a secure third party option like PayPal. Using a service like PayPal also prevents ‘e-skimming’ – a virus that infects e-commerce websites that skims credit card details at checkout.

7. Monitor your Credit Cards and Bank Accounts

  • Keep a close eye on your accounts so you can quickly identify potential fraudulent transactions.

8. Be wary of ‘Too Good to be True’ Deals

  • Do not click on ads, popups, surveys or offers that sound too good to be true. Trust your instinct!
  • Be very wary of gift card scams. Gift card scams are skyrocketing, so only purchase gift cards from trusted stores.

9. Be wary of fake parcel delivery scams

Fake delivery scams typically start with an email or SMS message pretending to be from a legitimate parcel delivery business like Australia Post, DHL or FedEx, claiming you have an ‘undelivered package’ awaiting your collection.

  • Be wary of messages that don’t address you personally, have few or no details about your order, or threaten to charge you a fee for holding an undelivered item.
  • Think before you click – remember Australia Post will never ask you to click a link to print out a receipt for parcel collection, nor will they ask you to update or verify your personal information.
  • If you’re unsure, call the organisation but remember to use contact details from a verified website or other trusted source.

10. Don’t Re-use Passwords

  • Always create unique and hard-to-break passwords when you set up new accounts.

Read more about how to avoid creating weak passwords.

11. Do Not Shop over Wi-Fi

  • Only shop using a secure, trusted network. There is now way to tell if a WiFi network is secure, or who is ‘listening’.

Do not let the bad guys spoil your Christmas – follow our online shopping fraud prevention tips to avoid being scammed.

Contact Surety IT for expert business cyber security assistance to keep your business safe.

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About the author:

Picture of Ash Klemm

Ash Klemm

Ash has over 20 years of experience in sales and marketing. His journey from a casual salesperson at Chandlers to State Manager at a national IT distribution company, while battling health issues, including a double lung transplant in 2015, gave him the experience, know-how, tenacity, and marketing insight, to find solutions and help businesses grow. After spending several years in the ivory tower of state management, Ash missed the genuine connection of face to face meetings and helping make a difference to businesses in need. His authentic, conversational, and easy-going nature helps our customers feel at ease and shows them we are a brand to trust. Ash spends his days advocating for our customers to ensure they receive the best possible service in a timely fashion. Ash is also the in house chair builder. His curiosity and natural problem-solving ability make him the perfect first call for all our new customers to help determine what is wrong, how Surety IT can help and what the best solutions are moving forward.
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