Buying Online: 8 Tips to Prevent Internet Scam


You don’t have to fall a victim before you take precaution; apply safety measures and secure your money from fraudsters.

With the rise of internet scam, one must take caution to avoid falling victim to the tactics of these internet fraudsters. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the eventual rise in e-commerce, many vendors have turned the internet to their trading spots. Some internet scammers have taken this opportunity to pose as online vendors, and dupe unsuspecting customers.

Different tactics have been used to entice different buyers; from very low prices to beautiful photos. In view of the online shopping wave and internet scam rates, there are simple rules to always keep in mind when you are about to purchase an online product.  Data shows that the most frequent victims are young people between 25 and 44 years old.

In many cases, these are practical tips and suggestions dictated by common sense, but the numbers of scams on the net suggest that a list of tips can help. These eight tips can help you prevent internet scam:

Be wary of very cheap products

If the selling price is much lower than the average of the other sites or other sellers, there is probably something wrong. Of course, the aim is always to save a few cash, but the bargain prices should immediately trigger some healthy diffidence.

Do not accept contacts outside the e-commerce site

Whether it is a professional seller on Jumia or a private individual on OLX, any type of communication outside the official channels should immediately call for alarm. Contacts from private numbers on the various messaging services or emails received from alternative addresses are clear signs that they should not be trusted. Often these contacts through unconventional ways are justified with the urgency of concluding the deal, to speed up the purchase procedure. In reality, they are just a way to convince the buyer to follow unsafe payment solutions.

Internet scam

Collect product information also from other sites

It may happen that the images accompanying an ad are fakes, for example, copied from the results of a trivial Google search. For this reason, it is better to deepen the knowledge of the product to buy, checking that the ad is not the copy-paste of another.

Read the whole announcement

Usually an advertisement written in correct language, complete with all the information you would like to have, is more reliable than the excessively synthetic ones. If any information is missing, you can still ask the seller for additional details, but if too much is missing it could be a negative signal. Don’t trust an advertisement if it is not very detailed.

Attention to personal data

For a scammer, some information can be very valuable – including bank details, BVN, dates of birth, tax codes and identity documents. Therefore it is good to give it only to people you know you can trust. This advice applies not only to purchases, but also to any other activity that takes place via the network, from emails for a job interview to requests for quotes.

Use even more caution with sellers from abroad

Given that some online trading platforms do not provide for relationships with foreign sellers, in all cases, it is necessary to raise the level of guard if you are asked to make the payment into a foreign account. It is especially important to protect your personal data, including not only the aforementioned BVN but also documents such as identity cards and driving license (sometimes required in photocopies or photos).

READ ALSO: Post Covid: Embracing the “New Normal”

Evaluate if it is appropriate to prefer the exchange by hand

Obviously it depends on where the object is located and who the seller is, but in the case of a sale from a private individual or from a physical store not too far away, it may be better to conclude the deal in person. Especially for used items, with a face-to-face meeting, you can check the conditions of the product and refuse the offer if there has been incorrect trait or malfunction.

If an internal service is offered, ask yourself if it really exists.

Some e-commerce platforms have their own internal cash flow management system, while many others do not have one. Especially when you are using services that you do not know thoroughly, better be wary of payments on alternative systems to the more well-known ones.

Bonus Tip: Take advantage of vendor reviews. By now, almost all the sales services offer information on the characteristics of the sales profiles. Checking the number of announcements and sales concluded, reading the reviews of other users, checking some of the most recent announcements are just three of the many precautions that can be taken to evaluate the reliability of a seller before confirming a purchase.

As most vendors own social media accounts, this is also a means to validate the seller. Look them up on social media and know how well they engage with their customers.

With these tips, you can prevent internet scams while shopping online.  If you’re reading this as a legit online vendor, you should also understand the steps you need to put in place to avoid being dismissed as an internet fraudster.

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