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5 Online Shopping Scams

November 26th, 2013 | by admin admin | in Security Advice |    0   comments

online_shopping.jpgWith Black Friday upon us, the holiday shopping rush is on. Instead of battling crowds at the malls, consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet. Browsing for that perfect gift while snuggled in your PJs and slippers is so much more relaxing. However, before you buy or sell anything online, here are some Internet fraud schemes to watch for:

1. Bait and switch. You can’t believe it. Someone is selling an iPad Air—brand new!—for $50 on Craigslist. You snap up the bargain, but you receive only a cheap iPad case, or nothing at all. The seller, meanwhile, has your cash, credit card and/or personal information.

 2. Dummy bids. You’re selling Aunt Martha’s silverware set on EBay. A scammer enters a very low bid, $20 perhaps, and follows it with a high bid, say $2,500, under a different name. No one else bothers to bid. The high bid is withdrawn at the last minute. Aunt Martha would not be pleased.

3. Cheque overpayments. You receive a $100 cheque for your ABBA collection. Strange, you had agreed on $75. Being an honest soul, you ship off your precious LPs, along with a $25 refund. A week later, the cheque bounces.

4. Fake web sites. A major retailer is hosting an incredible Black Friday sales event, according to an email from your best friend’s wife’s second cousin. Click on the link to access unbelievable savings. The site may look legitimate, but is a clever copy. A scammer is collecting all your financial and personal information.

5. Side deals. A seller may contact you, claiming the top bidder has backed out on the deal. The auction is over, but if you’d like, you can still send a cheque or wire transfer directly to the seller. You do so, but no product ever arrives. This is a common way to avoid the security precautions available on most auction sites.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

  • Follow the learning guides and security tips on your auction site.
  • Don’t send cash, money transfers or money orders.
  • Use a separate credit card, with a low limit for online purchases.
  • Shop only from your home computer, on verified secure sites (look for a locked padlock or unbroken key icon, and “https” in the URL).
  • Never give out your social insurance number, date of birth or driver’s license number.
  • Do your research. Deal only with businesses and individuals you know by reputation or experience.
  • Manually enter correct URLs, instead of clicking on links in emails and texts.

For more security tips, check out

On-line Shopping Fraud: From a Buyer’s or Seller’s Point of View, RCMP

Auction and Shopping Scams, SCAMwatch, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission


Note: This blog discusses general safety and security topics. It is not intended to provide comprehensive advice or guidance. In all matters of personal safety and security, we encourage readers to research topics in depth and consult a security professional about specific concerns.

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