Risks of online shopping
The ECC-Net report Fraud in cross-boarder e-commerce shows that in 2012 at least 12% of internet users experienced online fraud of which 8% have fallen victim to identity theft. Reports of the ECCs show that consumers are becoming more and more exposed to fraud in online cross-border shopping and have therefore prepared tips and practical advice for detecting fraud and acting on it.
Below you will find a summary of 5 tips on how to avoid online fraud:
1. If an offer seems too good to be true, it most probably is!
Fantastic offers are most often merely empty promises. Pay special attention to reading the terms and conditions marked with „*“ and in small print. Check if the delivery conditions and particularly the conditions of returning the goods are explained well. When ordering free samples, pay attention to hidden subscriptions. Also pay attention to fake trustmarks and check whether a specific trustmark really exists.
2. Cash is not the most important thing: choose a safe payment method
Never pay in advance using any kind of money-wiring service because you will not be able to get your money back if something goes wrong. Check whether the website offers a secure method of payment – a website is secure if a little key or lock appears at the bottom of your screen or if the internet address begins with „https://“. Payment by credit card or secure payment method is the safest payment methods: if the purchased item or service is not delivered, companies will in some instances return the money.
3. What are they hiding?
The website should provide the information, which is required by the EU legislation, such as the identity of the online trader, geographical address (not a PO box number), e-mail address, the method of payment and delivery, the minimum duration of the agreement on services and the cooling-off period to change your mind and return the purchased product, without providing an explanations.
4. Check the price
Pursuant to EU legislation the price indicated on the website should correspond to the price you have to pay, including VAT and other taxes as well as administrative costs. The costs and method of delivery should be explained clearly and their price should be determined explicitly. If you purchase goods via a website located outside the EU, you have to pay the VAT-rate of your country in addition to customs duty and the cost of transportation. The final price can thus come as quite an unpleasant surprise.
5. “Don’t talk to strangers”
Ignore spam and pay attention to unexpected e-mails. Never provide any personal or financial information if requested by email and never click on suspicious links or open unknown attachments. Legitimate companies will never seek sensitive information from you in this way.