As it happens with any popular industry, scams have plagued the e-commerce business and as a consumer, you need to be extremely aware so that you don’t become a victim of one of those frauds. Considering scammers use many tricks to steal your money and data, it might be hard for you to keep track of every single one of them. Whether it’s Amazon, Flipkart, OLX, Quikr, or even Facebook Marketplace, scammers can be found trying to lure unsuspecting online shoppers into their trap irrespective of the platform. That’s why we decided to compile a list of top e-commerce scams you should know about and how you can best protect yourself.
Top e-commerce scams
1. Phishing email scams
Phishing email scams are as old as the Internet itself and although awareness regarding these scams has been on the rise, these are still probably the most impactful out of all scams that are out there. In case you are not aware, phishing is a scam in which the hackers depict themselves as a trustworthy or reputable entity to extract sensitive user information, which can then be used to their advantage. However, when it comes to e-commerce, these scams become even more effective as users place orders from these websites every other day and get updates regarding their regular orders by mail itself. Further, there are only a few major e-commerce players in any given region, which means hackers can even use basic methods like trial and error for several email addresses and still find success.
In most of these phishing emails, you would find that the sender has an email ID similar to that of major e-commerce outlets. You would likely be asked to perform certain actions by clicking on a link. Now, in the best-case scenario, you would be redirected to a certain advertisement, which is an annoyance at best. However, you could also be redirected to a malicious link that can infect your device with malware that steal your personal as well as financial data.
In phishing scams, we mentioned how a mail could be used to redirect you to an unwanted website. However, a more sophisticated form of scam combines phishing with pagejacking. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, hackers create a near-identical copy of the original e-commerce websites and use it to extract personal and financial data from unsuspecting users. Further, the web address of this fake site might very look similar to that of the real e-commerce website, such as ‘flpkart.com’ instead of ‘flipkart.com’ or amzon.com instead of amazon.com.
To make a purchase on this counterfeit website, you could be asked to fill in your personal details, including Flipkart user name and password. If you go ahead with the transaction, you will end up giving away your netbanking account number and password or debut card number and PIN. The scammer would then use those details to siphon away money from your account.
In order to avoid such a situation, we suggest you pay close attention to the email IDs from which you receive promotional emails. If the address looks legit and asks you to go to a certain web address, pay attention to the web address you are being redirected to. When you fill in personal information in any form, do make sure you are on the official site and not a fake page.
A great example popped up recently as a fake Xiaomi India website was spotted on the Internet, the company said that it reported the fake website to Cyber Crime division in India and the shared plans to take legal action as well.
3. Scam websites
Till now we discussed the instances where scammers created websites that tried to impersonate legit mainstream e-commerce sites to get user information or spam them with malware. Now it is the turn of websites that have unique identity but are fake. These kind of websites either deliver fake products to you after charging you a similar price as the original product or never deliver any product to you at all.
Before you place an order from any website that you have not shopped from before, you should always perform an online search for the site’s background. Try to find out reviews about the website and see if there are any issues reported regarding that particular website. Keep in mind that some websites even post fake reviews on products to make them appear genuine. This is why it is better to go to a third-party website and see what people have to say about their shopping experience from that site before making your decision. Apart from this, you can always avoid such a situation by simply placing the order from either Amazon, Flipkart, or any site that has a good customer reputation already.
4. Facebook Marketplace frauds
Now, this is where it gets tricky. Facebook is a well-known social media platform and you might think it is quite trustworthy despite the privacy issues that have been exposed over the years. However, the marketplace available on the website is far from being trustworthy. Facebook Marketplace basically acts as a connector between buyers and sellers. The platform itself doesn’t have any responsibility associated with sellers or products — it merely acts as the medium of communication between the buyer and the seller.
This is precisely why you need to be extremely careful of the sellers that are selling things on Facebook’s Marketplace and make sure you are not about to receive a fake product instead of the genuine one you ordered.