How to avoid online fraud

Where would we be without the internet? With its increasing availability across multiple platforms (broadband, wifi, 3G/4G etc.) and devices (smartphones, tablets, digital/smart TV etc.) means that it is now even easier and quicker to buy stuff online. But as a consumer you should still take care when paying for goods and services.

     Buying safely - Before you buy

Before you buy anything online you should make a note of the companys contact details, including street address and landline telephone number. Never rely on just an email address or indeed a PO BOX address. Also you should bear in mind that you may also have to pay for shipping costs, custom duty, Sales Taxes etc. . All these hidden costs can push up the price and should be clearly stated if your expected to pay any extra costs.

Close up of Web Fraud concept

     Use secure sites when transacting online

These sites have 'https' ('s' after the http) in front of the web address which indicates that the company has been independently checked to make sure they are who they say they are. A yellow padlock symbol will appear in the browser window to show the payment process is secure.

     When buying online

Here are some simple tips as to buying online :

  • Never pay money to somebody else.
  • Never give out your PIN number (to anybody!).
  • Check the sites Terms and Conditions, Privacy and Returns Policy.
  • Print/keep safe any copies of your order and any acknowledgements you recieve.
  • Check bank,credit card etc. Statements carefully against anything you buy online.
  • Make sure you keep your passwords secure.
      if something seems to good to be true probably is !

You will have same or similar rights buying online as you would have if you bought from a shop. This of course depends the country and or/state but generally your rights as a consumer don't really change just becasue you bought it online.


     Payment Protection - credit cards

The good news is that you do get a certain amount of in-built cover when you make a purchase with a credit card (always refer to the card card company Terms and Conditions). There are certain restrictions which may or will be governed by local laws.

In UK for example you are covered if the amount you are spending is between £100 - £30,000 (approximately US $150 - $45,000). The credit card company is jointly responsible, along with the supplier of the goods or services for any breach of contract or misrepresentation. Effectively this gives you cover if the goods or services never arrive, turn out to be faulty or not as described, or are damaged, irrespective of the method by which you purchased )ie online, over phone in store etc.).


     Recognising and dealing with internet fraud

Here are some of the signs to look out for  :

  • You paid for an item and it does not arrive.
  • You sell an item online and you don't get paid.
  • The item you bought does not match the original descprition you were given.
  • If you think feel that you may have been tricked or defrauded in someway then :
  • Check with the company you dealt with to see if the problem can be resolved.
  • Involve ebay to see what they can do to help.
  • If the goods or services were paid for using a credit card, then contact the credit card company to get them involved.
  • If the goods or services were paid for using PayPal or another online payment service, then check with them as to what fraud protection they offer.



     Types of Online Fraud

Unfortuantely where there is a will there is normally a way and there are many different types of online fraud. Here is a list of types of fraud to look out for.

Types of online fraud
Account TakeoverAdvance fee fraudsBank card & cheque (check) fraudBusiness directory fraud
Business opportunity fraudCharity donation fraudClairvoyant or psychic scamsClick fraud
Domain anem scamsFraud recovery fraudGovernment agency scamsIdentity fraud
Inheritence fraudInternet auction fraudLand banking scamsLoan scams
Lottery scamsMass marketing fraudMoney mulingOnline shopping fraud
Romance scamsVehicle matching scamsWest African or 419 scam
Work from home scams

If you think you have been a victim of a fraud, you should report it to the appropriate agency or authority in your country.

There is plenty of advice online from these incountry agencies to help you with what to do if you are a victim of a fraud.

Our top tip is common sense -  if in doubt then check it out!