Shopping Online: Common Scams and How to Spot Them

The internet has proved to be the least policed area of the modern world thanks to the worldwide access and incredible problems that come with trying to regulate billions of users and hundreds of millions of websites. Whilst you can never of course guarantee absolute safety online we can help you in avoiding some of the most common scams around so with that in mind here are the most common scams and how to avoid them.

Advanced fee

These are incredibly common scams where a retailer, renter or sales person of some kind requests an advanced fee on your purchase, usually as a deposit. These are often found on online classifieds websites or sites selling high end commodities. A good way to check the validity of these systems is to check the payment methods they are asking – if you see Western Union or similar this should be an instant warning flag so avoid these kind of scams. Generally no legitimate businesses or people require advance fees and if they do they will be deposits for something tangible using secure methods or in person.

Prizes that cost you

A common set of scams revolve around “prizes” where you are informed that you have won something or can pay to win something. The most common variant of this scam is the lottery winnings email scam where you are contacted being told you have won the New Zealand lottery or the Spanish lottery – basically any country not Australia. In order to attain your prize you will have to either hand over your bank details or make a small deposit somewhere to prove ownership. This is all designed to get your bank details and your money. Even if you had entered for the prize no countries would pursue you to collect your winnings as these makes very little business sense. If you ever get these kinds of emails or see advertisement on sites saying you have won just ignore them.

Fraud jobs

Fraud jobs have become increasingly prevalent on poorly monitored jobs sites and on classifieds sites. If you are looking at jobs online check that you can find a concrete address for the company and that they are registered to operate in the country in question. No address except an online one is a strong indication of a scam.  Also, no employer has ever required you to pay for a job or to buy special materials to access a job – if you see these report them to the site authorities and move on.

Money making scams

These are the most common online scams and simply play on people’s desires for wealth and greed. Any advertisement that runs on the lines of “stay at home makes 10,000 a month” or “turn 10 dollars into 10 million” is just an outright lie. Whilst it’s possible to make money online and to work exclusively online the online world is no different from the real world where harder work equals higher pay. With these kinds of scams; generally avoid them or if you think they are legitimate check the company details, search for complaints and check that the offer is realistic.

Too good to be true products

Finally we come to another hugely common kind of scam the too good to be true discount or amazing “wonder” product that will solve all your woes. These products are generally either fake or false and will often result in your personal details being stolen and your card being heavily re-billed after a certain time elapse. If you are shopping online – Australia has strict guidelines on what can and cannot be sold and it is always worth checking the legal and scientific status before making a purchase.

Steve writes about internet shopping within Australia, in addition to using portals such as where you can earn rewards for items purchased online.