Scam

Don’t let scammers trick you during Halloween. How to spot scammy online shops?

Hi Checkers!

Halloween is right around the corner, and so are the scammers – bringing ‘tricks’ to you. Do you know how to protect yourself from Halloween shopping scams?

Nowadays, online shopping is the norm; up to 82.3% of American consumers prefer to use Amazon to purchase holiday gifts. Cases and news about online shopping scams occur more and more often in our daily lives. According to Better Business Bureau (BBB), online purchase scams is the MOST common and the third riskiest scam in 2019.

When you shop online for Halloween costumes, please beware of Halloween scams.

Here are some useful features and ways to spot scammy online shops:

Common features of scammy online shops

  • “Too good to be true” campaigns
    • We all love good deals, but do you really think it is “normal” to purchase a pair of headphones that is 90% off online?
Way-too-cheap offers provided on a scammy Facebook ad
  • Typos and unnatural wordings
    • Content should be 100% accurate on reputable and well-designed websites.
    • We found suspicious wordings such as uniqueness, aspiring fashionista, and high craftsmanship across a variety of scammy online shopping sites.
2 scammy online shops that have the same unnatural wordings
  • Strange URLs
    • You can look up suspicious URLs at Whois for website details such as:
      • Does the domain country of the website match its base?
      • How long has the website been registered?
      • Is the registrant’s contact information hidden?
A scammy online shop that is registered in China.
According to Whois.com, the 2 scammy shops were registered recently on the same day, using the same registrar.
  • Invalid contact details
    • Check if the website offers valid contact details. For example, if the customer service email address matches the domain of the URLs.
    • Google the address to see if the company really exists.
    • We found 2 scammy online shops that listed the same company and used the same wordings on their “About Us” pages.
The contact address of the online shops above are based in China, but they are registered in U.S.
2 scammpy online shops share the same company name.
And the same “About Us” page.
  • Irrelevant customer reviews
    • It’s a good habit to check customer reviews before making a purchase. If an online shop has very little to no reviews, perhaps you should think twice.
    • Reviews can be deceiving. For example, zombie listing is one of the most common Amazon scams – the product has abnormally high ratings, but the comments and reviews don’t match with the listing.
The scammy online shop keeps popping out “purchase records” from nowhere.
  • Unusual payment methods
    • Keep an eye out for cash on delivery (COD)
      • People tend to think COD is the safer payment method, since one only need to pay upon product arrival. However, there are more and more COD scams, in which people receive packages they did not order under COD. You should be cautious if a shopping site only offers COD payment.
    • Other strange payment methods
      • If the website requests payment using electronic transfer, cryptocurrency, or prepaid card/gift card, there is high potential it is a scam.
    • Safer online payment options
    • NOTE: There are still exceptions.
      • While the payment methods seemed okay, that does not mean you are free from scams. In some cases, upon completion of online purchase, the merchant would ‘refund’ the money to buyers, claiming technical difficulties with the original payment.
      • After the initial refund, the scammer (‘merchant’) would ask buyer to use payment methods other than the one listed on the website – such as bank transfer or APPs like “Venmo” to complete transaction.
      • An example shows that once customers send out money, the scammer disappeared.
This scammy online shop claims that consumers can pay with cards issued from standard payment processing networks. However, when ordering, we can only choose to pay with PayPal.
  • Policies/Terms and Conditions of use
    • Often times, customers tend to ignore Policies on a website. However, it is important to pay attention to it. Websites should have detailed explanation of their privacy policies or terms and conditions of use.
    • If the online shop does not provide adequate information of their policies and rules, it is probably NOT a decent, trustworthy website.
“Terms of service” page of a scammy online shop in which numberings do not correspond

Beware and say no to scammers’ tricks! By paying more attention to the details and features of online shops, everyone can shop safely for Halloween.

Join us in the movement to create A World You Can Trust.

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