Boxing Day is no doubt the biggest and busiest shopping day in the retail year. This is why, as consumers and even retailers, we need to be aware that scammers are working tirelessly to target online shoppers with fake websites, phishing emails, social media accounts, and ads to steal personal information or bank details. In this blog, we will share how to identify common online scams, so you know how to shop safely online during Boxing Day as well as any other time of the year.
Identifying the signs of a trustworthy business vs. a scam
It’s hard to know what to look out for when you first come across scams so we’ll go through all the telltale signs of a scam and what to look for to ensure you’re interacting with a genuine brand.
When you’re shopping via online stores, we recommend looking carefully at the website to ensure that you’re on the official brand site, as there are various fake online stores out there to trick consumers. Here are several things you can inspect to ensure that you’re interacting with a genuine company:
- Look out for a padlock in the address bar or https
- Evaluate the look of the website
- Check for positive reviews
- Look at the company’s contact information for a phone number and address
- Research the company
- Read the terms and conditions
- Look out for a secure payment method
- Check out the ‘About Us’ page
If you’ve analysed the online shop for all the above and see something that doesn’t look right, you should follow your instincts and ensure that you go directly to the website if it’s a brand you know (most likely in the first few results of the search engine). For brands you’re unfamiliar with, you definitely want to take some time to do your research about them if you’re still iffy about all the things we asked you to check for.
Email phishing is the most common kind of scam people come across, and they are generally pretty obvious from just a brief look at these fraudulent emails. Here is what you want to watch out for when you receive emails from any brand:
- Inspect the email address and ensure it looks right
- Analyse the overall look of the email
- Look out for typos, grammatical errors, and spammy messages
- See what they are asking you to do (if they’re saying that you owe money, to re-enter your bank details, or provide other personal information, this is very likely a scam)
It’s not very often that a brand will message you out of nowhere unless you entered a competition, contacted the company, commented on their social media posts, or did something similar. Even in those cases, there may be malicious scammers targeting consumers at opportune moments to steal personal information or money. This is why we always advise that you check the account links back to the official brand page before interacting with them. If in doubt, there are secure ways to contact the company, such as through phone, email, live chat, or social media accounts linked to the brand’s official page.
- Search up the company’s social media accounts (you can most likely trust the first few results on Google)
- Go to direct social media links from the website or emails
- Look at the follower count or likes of the page or account (some brands are not very active or still growing their account but sometimes an unusually low or high follower count can be falsified)
When it comes to text messages, it can be a little harder to determine whether they’re a scam because text messages are very short and don’t have many features to give away that they’re a scam. We recommend being cautious by heading directly to the brand or company via your search engine if you want to check out a sale, something they are offering, or asking you to do. Here’s what you can do to keep yourself safe from scam texts.
- Inspect the links without clicking on anything
- Look out for spammy messages, grammatical errors and typos
- Question what it is they are asking you to do
Stay protected from online shopping scams by staying informed
No matter how busy it gets this Boxing Day, be sure to keep our tips in mind, so you don’t get scammed. If something seems too good to be true and you’re ever in doubt, it’s best to listen to your gut feeling and take the extra steps to ensure you’re buying from and dealing with legitimate brands. If you’d like more information about online scams, get in touch with the experts at FraudWatch. We specialise in protection against phishing, social media scams, mobile app scams, and brand abuse.