Cyber criminals create fake online stores that mimic the look of real sites or that use the names of well-known stores or brands. When you search for the best online deals, you may find yourself at one of these fake sites. By purchasing from such websites, you can end up with counterfeit or stolen items, and in some cases, your purchases might never be delivered. Take the following steps to protect yourself from fake online stores:
Keep your guard up even when shopping at trusted websites. Large online stores often offer products sold by different individuals or companies that might have fraudulent intentions. Such online destinations are like real-world markets, where some sellers are more trustworthy than others. Check each seller’s reputation before placing the order. Be wary of sellers who are new to the online store or who sell items at unusually low prices. Review the online store’s policy on purchases from such third parties. When in doubt, purchase items sold directly by the online store, not by the third-party sellers that participate in its online marketplace.
Regularly review your credit card statements to identify suspicious charges. If possible, enable the option to notify you by email, text, or app every time a charge is made to your credit card. If you find any suspicious activity, call your credit card company right away and report it. Avoid using debit cards whenever possible. Debit cards take money directly from your bank account; if fraud has been committed, you’ll have a much harder time getting your money back. Another option is using well-known payment services such as PayPal for online purchases, which do not require you to disclose your credit card number to the vendor. Finally, consider using a gift card for online purchases.
Just because an online store has a well-designed, professional look does not mean it’s legitimate. If the website makes you uncomfortable, don’t use it. Instead, head to a well-known site you can trust or have safely used in the past. You may not find that incredible deal, but you are much more likely to end up with a legitimate product and avoid getting scammed.
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