Online Shopping Scams to Watch For

It’s that time of the year again! With the leaves changing colour and the holidays right around the corner, prepare yourself for another busy season of online shopping. Keep reading to learn how to make sure your online shopping is safe and secure.

According to a report from the U.S. Commerce Department, for the first time in history, the market share of online retail sales in the U.S. was higher than general merchandise sales, including department stores. With so many goods being purchased online, it’s no question that online scams are rising as well. This week, we are sharing 3 online shopping scams to watch for.

Scam 1 – Mystery Shopper

Have you seen online ads asking you to become a mystery shopper? These ads promise you lucrative pay simply for buying items undercover, but some are not legitimate at all.

Once you get in touch with a mystery shopping scam, the scammer may send you a cheque for hundreds of dollars. Then, they’ll instruct you to cash it, take a portion for yourself, and then forward the remaining funds to the employer.

Many online offers exist that ask you to become a mystery shopper.

However, the cheque itself is actually bogus and will eventually bounce. This makes you liable for the money you spent as well as any service fees related to the bounced cheque.

Other iterations of this scam include being asked by scammers to wire money, buy gift cards, and paying for certifications or fees before you can start your mystery shopping job (or any other job).

If something seems too good to be true, it likely is. Always stop and think when you get an offer like this.

Scam 2 – Crowdfunding Campaigns

In recent years, crowdfunding has emerged as a popular way for artists, online creators, startup companies, and individuals experiencing hardships to ask the public to donate money to fund their monetary goals.

Some popular crowdfunding websites and platforms you might have heard about include Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo. However, despite these websites having a great reputation, the person responsible for the crowdfunding campaign may not be in it for the right reasons, like this couple in Philadelphia who conspired a fake GoFundMe campaign.

The holidays can be a great time to give back. But before you make a donation make sure to do a simple background check on the business or the person’s name. Some good questions to ask yourself are:

  • Does the company or person actually exist?
  • Have they launched other crowdfunding campaigns?
  • How believable does their story or mission sound?

Scam 3 – Online Purchases Scams

Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, Kijiji – you likely know about these major websites providing a marketplace for goods and services. But did you know they have high rates of scams where customers have lost money as a result?

These online shopping scams take place in many forms, with the most common one being a scammer listing items for sale, collecting payments for it, and then never shipping the items. Although some websites like eBay and Amazon protect buyers from this, on other websites a refund is never guaranteed.

Other times, the scammer lists fake items for sale. Check out this news story about a woman who purchased a fake second-hand iPhone online.

Now that you know more about these scams, be sure to share this blog with your family and friends so they can be aware too! Want to learn more? Check out some of our other articles below for more information on how to protect yourself.

Online Shopping Safety

Quiz – Can You Spot the Phishy Deals?

FixMeTip: avoid risky websites and scams before they happen with McAfee Total Protection. McAfee will provide clear warnings if the website you’re on is too good to be true. And because you’re a FixMeStick customer, you get an exclusive discount. Check it out here!

23 comments

  1. Anonymous - Reply

    Thank you for the heads up…I have had far too many scammer phone calls lately and will surely beware of online scammers.

  2. Leona Burns - Reply

    Thank you for these tips.
    I have only used online shopping twice, once being connected to amazon and my credit card was compromised requiring me to change my card for a new number.
    The other one was connected with a purchase on line with Walmart and the item was returned and it took six months to get all my money back.
    If I am required to buy through online companies, I look up their phone numbers and call them direct to make my order. No phone number, no order.
    For most part I like to be hands on with my purchase so that I can see the quality and that the items are worth the money being asked for the items.
    I do thank you for your information. It is certainly worthwhile reading.

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi Leona, thanks for reading our blog. Sorry to see that you’ve never had a good experience making online purchases. It definitely looks like it’s best to stick with brick & mortar stores or ordering over the phone in your case.

  3. Jean Pierre Gagne - Reply

    I went to Walmart and purchase the stick and it , lets just say from 1 to 10 its a 1.

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi Jean, I checked your FixMeStick account and it looks like you were able to complete a successful FixMeStick scan a few days ago. If you have any questions about this or if FixMeStick did not perform as expected, feel free to contact us at support@fixmestick.com and we’ll assist you from there!

  4. Linda Ann Case - Reply

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve also had the following Amazon purchasing scam. Email notice: I’ve just bought a computer and if I haven’t received my (several thousand dollar) computer I should call a specified number. Good thing I don’t have an Amazon account and like to make expensive purchases through brick & mortar stores.

    • Linda - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us, these Amazon email scams seem to be on the rise as well!

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi Dexter, thanks for your interest. Unfortunately, the current version of the FixMeStick cannot be used on Smartphones. We recommend using McAfee to protect your smartphone as an alternative.

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi David, once you use your FixMeStick on a computer, the FixMeStick will register that computer as having taken up a license. There is no way to reverse this so if you have any other questions about it, do contact us at support@fixmestick.com.

  5. Joanne - Reply

    Last spring my husband purchased a leather jacket on Amazon, it had great detail about the quality , and good for riding a motor bike, a pic it was really beautiful. Well the jacket arrived form Mumbai, shipping was 5.00$ and no additional charges giving that alone should’ve raised a red flag because shipping to Canada is way more. We had to pay a 45$ from a shipping company to get the jacket. let me tell you the jacket was so bad not the same as described not the same pic and the paper thin leather was cracking. I returned the jacket alright to the address giving to the US and they simply refused to refund us the extra 45$ for shipping. Amazon is not responsible for extra shipping that i know. I made sure to leave a complete detail on his Amazon page and I reported the store to Amazon as fraudulent. I hope more people do the same, we must report these A-holes who think nothing of scamming others. thank you

    • Linda - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your story with us, Joanne! Hidden shipping charges as well as tax & duty charges can add up especially for international purchases. Hopefully, your story will make more people aware of these charges and think twice when purchasing products online.

  6. Otto - Reply

    Hi Linda,
    use the Fix Me Stick and never had a Problem.
    Help is just a Phone Call away.
    Great Product.

  7. Anonymous - Reply

    WISH.COM should be added to the list. They have no phone number for customer service. My account has been hacked twice. I have emailed them for several weeks awaiting for a reply. The reply comes in a foreign language, even after repeated request to email me back in English. Someone has taken over my email account requesting to change my email address. I sent an email to them not to do it I didn’t request a change of anything. So I went to cancel my account I can’t get into it,. I can only assume the account was changed with all my personal info along with credit card info. do you think I can get any help from WISH.COM NO I CAN’T

    • Linda - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your experience on WISH.com! It can be tempting to make purchases on ultra-low-cost websites. But do keep in mind the products cost less for a reason. Usually, it might mean the company had to skimp out on other costs, such as paying for support services.

  8. Edna - Reply

    I purchased a patio set from an ad on Facebook and never received the set. The website was taken down and now im waiting on my credit card company to get the money back.

  9. Anonymous - Reply

    OMG To anonymous: I totally forgot to mention Wish.com !!! My credit card had a 645.$ charged to it last october 2018. I didnt even know about that web site when i spotted the charge, 2 weeks later it was gone that was on my walmart master card.I cancelled the card and will not get another one.

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