The e-commerce industry has given a lot of convenience to shoppers who have welcomed the experience of online shopping, sitting in their comfort zones. This digital market has successfully fulfilled all the retail needs with customers trying their hands on multiple online shopping items ranging from clothes and accessories to beauty and fashion.
With varied brands of beauty products, fashion accessories, clothing, etc., available online for sale at desired prices, the graph of online shopping has increased. Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have given a further push to the same.
But a majority of the customers are not aware that all this convenience comes at a price. The fun to have your desired clothing at the click of a mouse may turn into a nightmare if your credit card details land in the hand of cyber-stalkers.
Example: You plan to purchase cosmetics from your favourite Maybelline brand while having tea, and seeing a good offer, shopped the same instantly.
Since you did not check out the website’s authenticity, little, did you think about your card details being tracked by cyber-criminals? You are in big trouble because the internet is full of fake websites offering heavy discounts on fashion and beauty products apart from genuine sites. Your order on such websites may cause monetary loss with no product delivery.
I have penned down a few tips to identify shady websites while shopping for your favourite clothing or beauty products. Let’s check them out.
Tips to Avoid Being Scammed While Shopping Online
1. Verify the Domain Name
The foremost step when you land on a website is to check the domain name/URL. If the domain name comprises the brand name, it is legit, but if it consists of typos or wrong spellings, the website is bound to be fake.
Domains ending with .net or .org need to be verified, so be alert before punching your card details on such sites.
Use Google’s Safe Browsing Tool, which detects unsecured sites and displays warnings in browsers to know the website’s legitimacy.
2. Verify the Identity of the Seller
Always verify the “Contact Us” page where the seller’s name, address, and contact details are mentioned. This will tell you whether the site you are visiting is genuine or not.
If genuine, go ahead and buy your desired fashion and beauty products to stand out amongst the crowd.
3. Check the Site Security
Did you check the tiny lock in the URL? Did you check HTTPS in the address bar?
This secure lock near the website URL and HTTPS (hyper-text transfer protocol secure) is a site security symbol in the address bar. They are proof that the website you have visited has an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate installed on it, which secures your sensitive data with encryption.
Example: Wildcard SSL certificates like Comodo Wildcard SSL (from SSL2Buy) are cheap, and they secure all 1st level subdomains under the chosen root domain with SHA-2 encryption just for $44/year.
All genuine sites have these trust symbols, so if your visited site lacks these symbols, it’s an unsecured website. Beware of such sites, and instantly abandon them to keep your network and systems safe.
Nowadays, cyber-criminals too purchase these locks, so it’s advisable to do all the other checks mentioned in this article to determine whether the site is genuine or not.
4. Check the Site Reputation
Before planning to fill your wardrobe by making online purchases from unknown sites, it’s advisable to check site reviews and customer feedback to know the site’s reputation.
Have you noticed that big online giants like Flipkart and Amazon have a customer feedback section?
This section is to assure new customers about the trustworthiness of the website. It also assures them that sales are carried smoothly without any issues. Check these reviews and feedback before plunging into products of unknown sites.
5. Poor Site Design
Since genuine businesses invest in professionals to design a beautiful website and attractive layout, their websites are bound to appeal to the users.
On the other hand, fraudsters may not use funds for site designing or content. Hence, poor layout or site designs are one of the factors which depict a shady website.
Keep an eye on the grammatical errors or spelling mistakes in content and broken links on web pages to identify the fake ones.
6. Research the website on Social Media Platform
A few moments of website research may help you to determine whether the website is authentic or fraudulent.
- View the customer reviews on social media platforms and cross-check with the users regarding the same.
- View the “About Us” page to know the history of the company. If the details on the page sound suspicious, the site may be fake.
- Verify the contact details and email addresses mentioned on the website because these details may be wrong in fake sites.
A genuine website will have defined return policies and privacy policies that state your transactions and other data security. Check out the same since the same is usually missing in scam websites.
8. Don’t fall for Attractive Offers
Customers love discounts, and fraudsters take advantage of this weak point to trap customers into giving their information.
Their fake website comprises attractive offers at discounted rates to lure shoppers. Their attractive discount line-up is a trap for a layman, too, who may be enticed to try the brand.
Example: You may be on the lookout for a Michael Kors handbag but can’t afford the same due to its exorbitant price. A first copy or a fake one with the same name may be on sale on a fake website, available at more than 50% discount.
Never fall into such traps which cause damage to your finances. The product may not even appear on your doorstep, and you may lose out on a huge amount of money since you may have paid in advance.
9. Avoid Payment via Bank Transfer
Payment via credit or debit cards may have some chances of money return in case of payments on fake websites, but since the money paid via bank transfers is non-refundable, there are nil chances of getting your money back.
10. Check your Card Statements Regularly
The most pivotal way to control fraudulent activities is to check the electronic statements of your credit card every month rather than waiting for physical copies.
Instant action can be taken in case of any suspicious activity, and a huge financial loss can be prevented by regular monitoring.
Though Cash on Delivery is the safest option to prevent fraud, it’s wise to stick to known websites with satisfied customers and good reviews.
It’s also important that the website connection is secured with an SSL certificate so that its encryption security converts all your sensitive in-transit data (card details) into a coded language. In case of any fraudulent activity in your account, you can always approach cybercrime.gov.in to file a complaint. This may save other customers by falling into fraudulent hands. Happy Shopping!!