Online Shopping Hazards and How to Avoid them

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s so easy to get scammed, cloned or have your information stolen on Facebook and other platforms! Here are 10 red flags, and how to avoid becoming a victim this year!

Don’t click on ads to random places.

I know this kind of sounds counter-intuitive if you’re shopping, but many of these places are a huge scam. If you see something on a facebook (or other social media) ad you want, go directly to that business’ website by googling them and purchase that way. Clicking on links has caused automatic payments in some cases! You’ll be able to see right away if that company has negative reviews or any issues when selling/buying.

When shopping on ANY website, make sure the little lock in the address bar of your browser is CLOSED/LOCKED; even if you’re not putting in financial information.

This means that the site is encrypted and any info you put in cannot be stolen by hackers. This includes your email address, shipping address, passwords and names. This should be a hard and fast rule to shopping online.

If you see someone selling something on facebook and they insist you pay them via Facebook, Venmo or Cashapp, decline the sale.

This is a sure fire way for illegitimate businesses to avoid fees (which for a real business, is factored into the cost of doing business) and to scam you. If they don’t hold up their end of the deal, you have ZERO recourse. These companies consider this a “personal payment” and you will not win your case. Stick with a reputable merchant like Paypal or Stripe and be sure you’re paying the business, not a personal account. 

Now this isn’t always the case, but I have seen so many scammers using a combined facebook name.

One, this is against the TOU for FB and two, it’s just weird. For example: “JohnandSally Smith” as their name. Best to stay away from sellers like this.

NEVER pay for your goods using the “Friends and Family” option.

If your order is not what you expect, is damaged, or the seller hasn’t shipped your order, you will have no recourse if it’s paid F&F. Paypal looks at this as a personal payment. There are some exceptions, of course, if you actually know the person or have done business with them before and know you’re not getting scammed. However, I’d still shy away from it, just in case.

NEVER wire funds to anyone.

This is a definite way to get scammed.

If you’re going to pick up something you’ve ordered locally (Craigslist, FB Marketplace etc), take someone with you.

Never meet someone in a remote location, alone, especially after dark. Every police station is available so you can meet up to exchange money/items. Other great places to meet are grocery stores, banks, even Wal-Mart stores/lots are great because there are cameras everywhere. Make sure you’re meeting in a well lit, populated area with cameras.

If you’ve purchased something locally, use cash unless you’re dealing with a reputable business.

Buying things second hand means not having to divulge any private information to the seller. If you do choose to pay through a merchant (never give someone your credit card number) use Paypal or Stripe and send it regularly, NOT Friends and Family.

As I mentioned before, it’s best to know who your money is going to, before you finalize the transaction.

Check feedback on their site, yelp, facebook and other social media. A quick google search usually tells you right away if something fishy is up with that company.

Read and re-read the seller’s description of the item.

If you’re not sure of something, ask before you purchase. Don’t shop by photos alone; they may appear larger or smaller than the actual product, have different colors, styles and other options that are only in the description. Make sure you check and re-check your order before you hit the buy button. Many custom orders are non-refundable so be sure of what you’re purchasing first.

BOTTOM LINE:

If an offer is too good to be true, it probably is. That’s a good rule to follow in any purchasing. Go with your gut; it never lies to you!

I hope my list will help you stay safe online and have a great shopping experience! Don’t get caught up with the hustle and bustle of black Friday/cyber Monday shopping that you lose your common sense; sellers often count on this to make you spend more.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave feedback below! Happy Holidays!

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