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.
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.
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