The Basics of Online Shopping Scams
An online shopping scam involves a scammer who uses the internet to trick you into buying fake or counterfeit items, or paying for services that don’t exist. Scammers will often create websites that look like popular online stores, or they contact you directly through email or social media. They may even offer great deals on popular items that are hard to find. Ultimately, the goal of the scammer is to steal your money without delivering the goods or services they promised. Once you pay, the scammer will either never send you the item, or send you an inferior fake.
Common Types of Online Shopping Scams
There are many common online shopping scams that you should be aware of. Here are some of the most popular:
- Social Media Shopping Scams: Scammers will often pose as a seller on sites such as Etsy, Poshmark or Facebook Marketplace. When you reach out to inquire about an item they ask for too much personal information, such as your full name, home address or financial information. They may also send fake invoices or receipts.
- Phishing Scams: These scams try to trick you into giving away your personal information, such as your login credentials or credit card number. They usually come in the form of an email that looks like it’s from a legitimate online store.
- Counterfeit Goods Scams: You find a great deal on a fake product, or you may be sent counterfeit goods instead of the real thing. Fake products may not work properly and can pose a safety hazard.
- Payment Processing Scams: You are asked to pay using gift cards, wire transfer or with a prepaid debit card. Once you make the payment, you never receive the product or service.
- Fake Online Stores: These scam websites look like a legitimate online store, but they’re just trying to get your money. They may take your payment information and never send you the product, or the website may disappear altogether after a short time.
- Shipping and Handling Scams: You are asked to pay for shipping and handling, but the product never arrives.
- Auction Scams: You find a great deal on an auction site, but the seller is a scammer. After you pay, they never send you the product or they send you a fake product.