It is impossible to scroll through your social media feed without being hit with eye-catching ads for the latest trends. It is tempting to get sidetracked and click on the site promising perfect hair, better sleep, or healthier meals and yes, even insurance ). Social media is a great way for legitimate businesses to get their name and product out there, but it is also a breeding ground for scammers. In fact according to the Better Business Bureau, online purchases were the number one reported scam in 2023.
So how do you know if what you see in your feed is legit? Look for these red flags.
- Too Good To Be True. If the item you see is a significantly better deal than what you notice on other sites or in the stores, beware. Chances are the goods are a knockoff of an original product, and the item you receive (if you receive one at all) may not only be cheaply made but, in some cases, unsafe.
- Can’t Charge It. If a seller will not accept a credit card or secure online payment such as Paypal and insists on wire transfers or vouchers, scroll on past. Legitimate and established businesses will allow a secure form of payment which offers you the most protection against loss.
- Spell Check. A flashy ad on social media can catch your attention, but slow down and read carefully. Are there misspelled words and grammatical errors? This is a telltale sign of an illegitimate company selling counterfeit product.
- Free, Free, Free. Beware of free prizes, giveaways, and sweepstakes that make you eligible only if you “act now.” Scammers rely on getting a buyer caught up in the excitement and sending money before having time to research the “deal.”
If you sees omething you really want, take the time to research before you buy. Here are some additional tips from the Better Business Bureau.
- Check Better Business Bureau for BBB Business Profiles and consumer reviews.
- Search for online reviews.
- Review the website’s URL for misspellings or other errors.
- Examine the URL with Google’s Transparency Report tool.
- Use a map app to verify the business’s address.
- Remember the adage: If a price is too good to be true, it probably is.
- Treat a social media or email ad with suspicion until you have investigated the company behind it.
Even with due diligence, you may find yourself victim of an online scam. If you were overcharged for an item, did not receive the item or if you notice items on your statement you did not approve. Here is what you can do.
- File a complaint. If you made the purchase in a marketplace, such as eBay or Amazon, file a complaint. Most of the online marketplaces are reputable, so they’ll help you to investigate the culprit and retrieve your stolen money or receive the product accordingly.
- Call your bank or credit card company immediately. Your bank can put a hold on your account, your debit card, and any checks. Your credit card company can freeze your card. Many finance companies also offer fraud protection, which covers certain charges made without your consent, but you have to report the errors promptly.
- File a Police Report. Your bank or credit card company will likely need a copy of the police report. In some instances, your bank and/or credit card agency will request a copy of the police report you’ve filed. So don’t wait. Call your local police immediately with the non-emergency number, not 9-1-1, and report the case to the computer-related crimes division.
Don’t let scammers ruin your shopping fun. A little time and research can keep you and your money protected.
If you are a business owner, make sure you are protected from cyber fraud. Contact EPB&B cyber security professional, Justine Avera, firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure your policy has you covered.