How to Spot Common Online Shopping Scams

by Antonia Zivcic
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With the rise of online shopping, consumers are increasingly at risk of falling victim to online shopping scams. These scams can take many forms, including fake websites, fraudulent emails, and counterfeit products. In this article, we will discuss how to spot common online shopping scams and protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Fake Websites

1. Fake Websites

One of the most common online shopping scams is the creation of fake websites that look like legitimate online retailers. These websites are designed to trick consumers into providing personal and financial information or buying counterfeit products.

To spot a fake website, look for the following signs:

  • Check the URL: Make sure the URL of the website you are visiting is spelled correctly and matches the legitimate website. Scammers may use a slightly different URL, such as replacing a letter with a number or adding an extra word.
  • Look for the lock icon: Make sure the website uses encryption to protect your personal and financial information. Look for the lock icon in the URL bar or check for “https” at the beginning of the URL.
  • Check for reviews: Look for reviews of the website or retailer before making a purchase. If the website has no reviews or only negative reviews, it may be a scam.

2. Fraudulent Emails

Another common online shopping scam is the use of fraudulent emails that appear to be from legitimate retailers or financial institutions. These emails may ask for personal and financial information or include links to fake websites designed to steal your information.

To spot a fraudulent email, look for the following signs:

  • Check the sender’s email address: Make sure the sender’s email address matches the legitimate retailer or financial institution. Scammers may use a similar email address or a fake email address.
  • Look for spelling and grammar errors: Legitimate emails are usually well-written and free of errors. If the email contains spelling or grammar errors, it may be a scam.
  • Check for urgency: Scammers often create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly. If the email urges you to take immediate action or threatens negative consequences, it may be a scam.

3. Counterfeit Products

Another online shopping scam is the sale of counterfeit products that are falsely advertised as genuine. These products may be cheaper than genuine products, but they are often of lower quality and may be dangerous.

To spot counterfeit products, look for the following signs:

  • Check the price: If the price of the product is significantly lower than the price of the genuine product, it may be a counterfeit.
  • Look for misspellings and errors: Counterfeit products may have misspellings or errors on the packaging or in the product description.
  • Check the packaging: Look for differences in the packaging compared to the genuine product. Counterfeit products may have different colors or logos, or the packaging may be of lower quality.

How to Protect Yourself

How to Protect Yourself

To protect yourself from online shopping scams, follow these tips:

  • Use reputable websites: Stick to reputable websites and retailers that have a track record of good customer service and security.
  • Check reviews: Before making a purchase, check for reviews of the retailer or product. If the reviews are negative or non-existent, it may be a scam.
  • Use a secure connection: When making a purchase, use a secure connection and make sure the website uses encryption to protect your personal and financial information.
  • Use a credit card: Use a credit card instead of a debit card or bank transfer when making a purchase. Credit cards offer greater protection against fraudulent charges.
  • Be cautious of emails: Be cautious of emails that ask for personal or financial information or include links to websites. Instead of clicking on the link, go directly to the website to make sure it is legitimate.


Online shopping scams are a growing problem, but by following these tips and staying vigilant, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim. It’s important to stay informed and educated on the latest online shopping scams and how to avoid them. Keep up-to-date with news and warnings about new scams as they emerge, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your bank or credit card company if you suspect fraud.

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