Online Shopping Scams – Discretion is the Better Part of Valor

November 17th, 2021
Online Shopping Scams

You might be wondering why we might mention the word ‘valor’ when shopping and online shopping scams. Imagine: You are looking for a product online, and you come across an offer you can’t refuse. You don’t need that product at that very moment, but you decide to buy it anyway.

But what if that offer you can’t refuse involves a site you haven’t heard of before. You still choose to buy the product and share your details. Sometimes, “valor” is taking a chance on something. But in the case of online shopping, discretion is better – because many times, that unknown site leads to you being scammed.

It’s always open season for online shopping scams

Ecommerce sales hit $791.70 billion in 2020, indicating the massive reach and appeal of online shopping, and the sheer number of people making online purchases. It therefore comes as no surprise that cybercriminals are targeting this growing population of online shoppers. Their thinking is very simple. If even a small percentage of these shoppers make an indiscrete shopping decision, they’ll make a windfall.

Our earlier scenario detailed an unsuspecting shopper lured into sharing financial information on a malicious website disguised as an ecommerce site. This just scratches the surface of online scams.  There are plenty of online pitfalls created by criminals specifically targeting shoppers willing to take a risk, who fearlessly click on a link without worrying about the consequences.

It is critical that you avoid these scams to ensure the security of your sensitive information while shopping. The difference between getting scammed and being safe is making smarter decisions when shopping online. But for that to happen, you need to get a better idea of the scams that are just waiting for you to make a wrong move.

The phishing scam

Phishing scams might seem commonplace, but they are becoming more and more sophisticated, so you should learn to have an eye for detail to identify a phishing email from the real deal. Here’s what happens: You get an email from a huge brand or website – say Amazon, for example – claiming to be from customer service. The message and design are so well-crafted that it is difficult to identify that it is a fake.

Typically, the message will involve needing to update your personal data. It will indicate urgency to try to trick you into making a quick decision. All you need to do is click on a link, share your details, and you are good to go.

It might seem simple, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who fall for it. Retailers and other online shops will never send an unsolicited email asking you to provide sensitive personal information.

The fake e-retailer

Scammers are coming up with innovative and elaborate scams to fool you into sharing personal and financial information. A fake shopping website might be so well designed as to convince shoppers like yourself that it can be trusted. The offers on such sites are too good to be true (tell-tale sign #1), but who doesn’t love a good offer? All doubts are set aside, and our information handed over.

You might receive links to these sites in your email, or you might them in a banner ad on a website or even an article.

So how do you avoid falling prey to such scams? Simple. Only buy from trusted ecommerce sites. Don’t buy from a site that you know nothing about.

The gift card scam

Gift cards are incredibly popular, and this is the reason scamsters use them. The modus operandi is simple. You get an email, message, or even a call saying you are eligible for a massively discounted gift card offered by a reputed seller, ecommerce website, or third-party provider. This is the hook. Again, the deep discount on offer is used as a psychological ploy to get you to make a snap decision.

The message has a sense of urgency attached to it, and sometimes an emotional reason like a medical emergency is offered to convince you to leverage the discount.

If you fall for the scam, the moment you share sensitive information through their link, it is passed on to the fraudster. The best rule to follow is don’t buy gift cards from unknown sources. That’s it.

The Key is to Wisen Up

Online shopping is almost a necessity these days. There is nothing wrong in looking for good deal on products online, but the key is to exercise caution and not get lured into a discount from an unknown seller. Also, make doubly sure that that the email that claims to be from a trusted seller is actually from that seller. Make sure the email address is legitimate, and never share your information when you click on links included in these messages. It’s worth spending the time to verify messages you receive are real – time spent on caution is time not spent cleaning up after you’ve been scammed.

Also, invest a strong antivirus solution. Sophos Home makes sure that you can enjoy a secure shopping experience knowing it protects you from phishing and hacking attacks. Your PCs and Macs are secured with advanced malware scanning and cleaning, threat detection, real time antivirus, privacy protection, and much more to keep your private information safe and secure.

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