Top Tips to Avoid Online Scams

Online shopping is rapidly growing every year.

The convenience of buying what you want with a click of a button makes more people prefer to shop online. A recent survey done by UPS and analytics firm ComScore showed that for the first time, consumers have made more purchases online than in-store.

However, as the trend of shopping online rises, so is the number of online frauds. Scammers are always finding new ways to steal consumers’ personal details and credit card information. To help you avoid falling victim to fraud, we at Couponbox have done some research into the most common types of online scams and how to spot them.

Whether you’re receiving promotional emails, browsing a site for your favorite product or shopping with your mobile, here’s what you need to look out for.

1. Look for the Green Lock.

Whenever you access an online shopping site, always check for a green lock in the URL address bar.

Couponbox SSL

The lock indicates that the website uses a security layer called SSL to encrypt and securely send data such as usernames, passwords and credit card information. You’ll also notice that the URL of these websites start with “https” and not “http”.  

Avoid shopping on sites that display a red lock or don’t start with “https”, making your data much easier to compromise.

Broken ssl

2. Don’t Take the Phishing Bait.

Through a process called phishing, scammers attempt to obtain sensitive information such as your login or credit card details by sending a legitimate-looking email that redirects to a fake website. Without noticing the URL or other small details in design or text, victims fall for phishing scams because the fake websites highly resemble that of the actual retailer.

A recent phishing scam targeted thousands of Amazon users who received an email asking them to click on a link and re-enter their account info to have their orders processed.

phishing

Example of a fake Amazon website. Image via fireeye.com

Amazon and other retailers provide guidelines to help people identify phishing attempts. Amazon for example warns users of suspicious emails that ask for personal details or payment info updates. Instead, users should check such requests on their Amazon account.

3. Double-check App Names

Using mobile applications to shop on-the-go is very convenient, but watch out for fake apps that trick you into submitting personal and credit card information.

Mobile app stores are flooding with knock-off applications that closely resemble ones from an actual retailer. A recent example is a fake app called “Footlocke Sports Co.” that users thought was the official Foot Locker app.

Footlocker Fake App

Fake Foot Locker app on Apple Store

To identify fake apps, always double-check the name and publisher to make sure it’s from a real retailer. Wrong app logo, bad ratings/reviews and low number of downloads are also tell-tale signs of suspicious apps.

4. Review App Permissions

All mobile apps require some permissions in order to run.

But even if you download an application from a legitimate source, watch out for suspicious permissions that seem beyond what it needs to function. Basically: an online shopping app should probably not require access to admin features or stored passwords.

App permissions

Sample app that requires access to sensitive information

Fake applications use such permissions to gain access to sensitive data. So if you’re in doubt, don’t install.

Have you ever been a victim of online scam? Let us know in a comment below.