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According to the Better Business Bureau, the biggest scams of 2019 involved online purchases.  Most of the time, consumers paid for goods and services they never received.  They were commonly duped while trying to buy clothing, home goods, and medical/nutrition products.  Here are some ways to spot an online shopping scam so you won’t be the next victim.

The site isn’t secure

Before entering any personal or financial information, make sure the website is secure.  If it is, the URL will begin with “https” instead of “http”.  Most browsers also use a closed padlock in the address bar to show that the site is secure, and the connection is encrypted. 

The domain name is suspicious

Some scammers try to be slick and use a fake domain name that’s similar to a popular legitimate website.  A few years ago, a bunch of fake Pandora jewelry websites popped up promising steep discounts of up to 70% off.  All of them were scams.  People either lost their money or received fake jewelry.  With most companies, the domain usually matches its brand name so always double check the URL.  Stay away if there are extra words or letters. Also beware of websites containing bad quality photos and poor grammar.  Those are usually signs that the website can’t be trusted.

Most of the reviews are negative

Social media has a funny way of making people spend money they had no intention of spending.  One minute you’re minding your business scrolling through your timeline, the next you’re being enticed by an ad from a company you’ve never heard of before. Always do your research before placing an order with a company you’re unfamiliar with.  Read the comments left on the ad, then go to their profile and read the ones on their posts.  Often when consumers are having issues with customer service, they’ll take their issue to the company’s social media pages.  Alternatively, you can search the company’s name online.  If most of the feedback is negative, then you obviously know to stay away.

The price seems too good to be true

There’s nothing wrong with trying to find the best deal online, but you need to be realistic.  Most stores are in competition with each other, so they offer similar prices.  Even if you have a coupon code, usually the price will still be within the same ballpark.  If a store has an item marked significantly less than everywhere else, there’s a good chance either the item is counterfeit, expired, not as described or they’re going to take your money and run. 

There’s no contact information or return policy

Even if it’s an online business, there has to be some way to contact the seller if you have questions.  Be leery of stores that only provide a contact form and no other way to reach them.  You always want to have a phone number and physical address just in case.  While you’re at it, look for the store’s return policy.  Most stores give you 30 days to return an item for a full refund if you’re not satisfied with your purchase.  If the return policy is vague or nonexistent, go find somewhere else to shop.