Did you know that 25.5% of the global population has fallen victim to scams, where $1.026 trillion was lost to fraudsters? Approximately 11% of this loss is attributed to online marketplaces, as reported by the Global Anti-Scam Alliance (GASA). The reality of e-commerce scams is undeniable, and it’s essential for us consumers to be increasingly vigilant in our online purchases.
As scammers are constantly refining their deceptive tactics, we decided to dedicate the topic of this blog to exploring strategies for preventing scams in the e-commerce world.
The landscape of online scams
For a clear understanding of the scam phenomenon, we will explore the results of the Global State of Scams survey, which involved 49,459 people across 43 countries. This survey revealed some unexpected truths about the nature of scam victims.
Common perceptions might lead us to believe that those who fall prey to scams are generally less informed or poorly educated. However, this survey challenges such assumptions, showing that 53% of those scammed had at least university study levels. Furthermore, the most affected age groups are 35-44 and 25-34 years old, dispelling the myth of the ‘naive’ victim.
Interestingly, while 69% of participants felt confident in their ability to recognize scams, 59% reported encountering a scam at least once a month. This contrast suggests that confidence alone is not a safeguard against the cunning of scammers and that an additional layer of caution is necessary.
The primary reason people fall victim to scams is often the allure of an attractive offer, a tactic frequently exploited by scammers to deceive their targets.
Identifying fake webshops
Navigating the online marketplace safely requires the ability to recognize fake webshops. Here are nine methods you could use to identify these fraudulent sites:
1. Check the website’s domain:
Start by examining the website’s URL. Look for subtle misspellings or odd domain extensions that differ from the legitimate brand’s website. Scammers often use URLs that closely mimic those of real businesses.
2. Evaluate website design and content:
Legitimate websites typically have a professional look and feel. Be wary of poorly designed websites, grammatical errors, and low-resolution images. These are often red flags indicating a fake webshop.
3. Verify contact information:
Check for legitimate contact details. A genuine webshop will usually list a physical address, a phone number, and an email address. Be cautious if this information is missing or if the only way to contact the site is through a form.
4. Look for secure payment options:
Reputable online stores offer secure, encrypted payment methods. Be skeptical of webshops that only accept direct bank transfers or untraceable payment methods like cryptocurrency.
5. Double check customer reviews:
While customer reviews are helpful, fake webshops might display fabricated reviews. Cross-check reviews on independent sites or look for inconsistencies in the feedback on the website.
6. Assess trust badges and security certificates:
Trust badges and security certificates (like SSL certificates) indicate a secure site. However, be aware that scammers can fake these badges. Verify their authenticity by clicking on them; genuine badges should link you to a verification page.
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7. Be wary of unrealistic offers:
If the deals seem too good to be true, they likely are. Extremely low prices on high-demand items can be a tactic to lure unsuspecting buyers.
8. Use website authentication tools:
Utilize online tools that can check the credibility of a website. These tools analyze various aspects of the site to determine its legitimacy.
9. Check their social media presence:
A legitimate business often has an active social media presence. Look at their social media profiles for customer interactions, regular posts, and engagement. However, be cautious, as more sophisticated scammers can create a facade of active social media presence. Check for consistency in their posts, responsiveness to customer queries, and the overall quality of their social media engagement.
Identify scams with Trustprofile
Found a webshop you’re interested in? Even if it appears trustworthy, we suggest taking an extra measure to secure your online purchases. This short guide adds an additional layer of security, and it takes seconds:
1. Check the webshop on Trustprofile:
First, copy the URL of the webshop and visit trustprofile.com. Insert the URL in our search bar. We likely have the website in our database already. If not, we’ll quickly perform a website check.
2. Assess the trust profile:
Once you input the URL, a comprehensive profile will appear, summarizing key information about the webshop. This profile is a one-stop overview, incorporating all the recommended checks discussed earlier in this blog. You’ll see two main sections: reviews and assurances.
3. Interpreting the trust signals:
A trustworthy website often has a good overall rating, but don’t overlook the presence of some negative reviews. Pay attention to how the webshop responds to these; a proactive response with resolution initiatives is a good sign.
– Entrepreneurial Badge: Learn about the webshop owner, similar to an ‘About Us’ page.
– Identity Badge: Verify contact details like address, email, and phone number.
– Legally Checked Badge: Check if the webshop has been legally vetted.
– Mediation Badge: Indicates the availability of a dispute resolution mechanism.
– Safe Browsing: Confirms the webshop’s security measures and SSL certificate.
– TrustSeal Registration: When a webshop is verified by one of our partner trust seals, it’s a significant mark of safety. This verification means that the webshop has undergone rigorous checks and is secure for transactions. This should give you considerable peace of mind. Find out more about assurances here.
This information is just a few clicks away and greatly contributes to your safety online. As we discussed earlier, overconfidence can be a pitfall. Many who are confident about not being scammed are often more vulnerable.
Useful tip: bookmark Trustprofile.com in your browser for quick access to verify the trustworthiness of any webshop.
In the end, let’s take a moment to reflect on what this discussion means for each of us personally. We’re always online, and the truth is, it could be any of us on the other side of a scam. It’s not about numbers or statistics but our hard-earned money, our trust, and sometimes, our peace of mind. The realization that being educated or internet-savvy doesn’t make us immune is a bit of a wake-up call, isn’t it? This is a reminder to pause before clicking ‘buy’, to double-check that too-good-to-be-true deal, and to remember that behind every scam statistic is a real person’s story. So, let’s pledge to be a bit more cautious, a tad more questioning, and to share what we know, because staying informed and connected is our best defense. Stay safe out there!
P.S. Have you faced a scam while shopping online? We encourage you to share your story in the comments. Your experience could provide help and support for others.