From selling Louis Vuitton knockoffs to Obamacare scams, looks like the online jungle is getting more and more unsafe by the day. When buying something, the decision is yours and yours alone. You’re lucky if you snatch a good deal. For the unfortunate ones, you can land in hot water. If you are taking a chance on a new product or service, these red flags might come in handy.
Money-back guarantee and service warranties are signs that an online merchant is confident that his products or services can meet or exceed expectations of customers. Bid off from those that advocate “no return, no exchange” policy.
No SSL Protocol
When the “padlock” symbol at the left-hand side of the address bar is missing, payment for purchases may not be secured. Also, transact only with websites that begin with “https”, instead of just “http”.
SSL is an internet protocol that ensures safe delivery of payment from the buyer to the merchant. No padlock symbol means no SSL. Get out, before it’s too late.
Redirection upon clicking “buy” button
You are interested in buying a product, and then you hit the “buy” button. Suddenly, you were rerouted to a website that offers different items. This implies to things: you have been a victim of phishing or the online merchant is taking chances to see whether he or she will be able to lure you to the true nature of their business.
When this happens, immediately change passwords of all your credit cards and online payment accounts.
Hidden costs are hideous. It is already a form of dishonest and deceit on the part of the merchant. Once you see that there are “miscellaneous” charges added to the original price at the checkout, immediately exit the website.
Crooked website content
If grammar police and Nazis are needed altogether, then this website is not worth a second look. An authentic online merchant would pay bucks to optimize his or her site, and make sure that the graphics look sharp, content brings value to readers (aside from being readable) and navigation is easy breezy.
Suspicious free trials
A free trial that would guarantee you losing 50 pounds in 2 weeks is most likely a fad. Even Jillian Michaels will raise her eyebrows with this kind of offer.
There are online merchants that will tell you that all you need is sign up and provide them with your credit card information, and then you can already enjoy a 30-day trial free of charge. Before the promo period ends, you notice charges on your credit card bill from the online merchant that clearly stated you are availing of a free trial.
You may to pay this one (then curse the merchant afterwards). Thereafter, immediately inform your bank to halt payments for the succeeding months.
Winning in a raffle you didn’t join
Out of nowhere, you won several thousands of dollars in a raffle you don’t even remember joining. There are those who are wise enough to know that this is fraud. But, there are others who would think that it’s their lucky day, and bite into the bait.
What will the culprits get out of this scheme?
There are three ways on how this tactic can be beneficial for the cyber criminals and devastating for the pseudo-winners.
- winner will be directly asked for confidential information that would include their credit card or debit card accounts
- an electronic communication containing a link where you can claim the prize is a masquerade of a grand phishing master plan
- winner will be asked to deposit a certain amount as a way to claim the bigger prize
These are signs of unscrupulous online merchants that you need to see before you even proceed with any transaction. But, do you know that you should also trust your instincts?
If you feel uneasy about something, the rule is simple: don’t buy. Instincts are there for a reason. It also pays to be suspicious sometimes.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Vratislav Darmek