As easy as online shopping is, there are always things about online shopping that you may not know about and it’s probably best you do.
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1. You may not own those books and that music you downloaded
If you are to download music from iTunes or a Kindle book from Amazon, you are actually purchasing the licence to use that product rather than actually buying the product itself.
It may seem like a convenient and seamless way to consume books and music but if you were to ever close your account with that retailer then you could possibly lose everything you’ve purchased. There may possibly be workarounds to this, but the retailer will probably tell you they are illegal – and they probably are.
Tip: Unless you can physically hold it, you almost certainly don’t own it.
2. Beware of help via social media
These days, you will find that the majority of retailers will have a customer service presence via their social media pages. This is because, increasingly, consumers are finding it easier to raise their concerns via social media as it tends to gain a better response than a phone call or email – perhaps that’s something to do with it being in the public domain.
However, as good as that may be, scammers are now started imitating those accounts and have begun to send solicitous messages such as a request for account details.
Tip: Never – and that means never – give your credit/debit card details to anyone who asked for them as proof of identity.
3. Beware of threatening email
Recently, I received an email from a fraudster claiming to be Apple. I have been an Apple iTunes Music customer for many years; however I have not used my account for a number of recent years. Never having had a problem before, I was shocked to receive an email stating I owed £54.00 on an item I hadn’t purchased. The email then went on to say that in order to “cancel” the order, I must fill out a form which included inputting my personal details and bank account details – a HUGE red flag went up here. If I already have an account, why were they asking for my card details? I hadn’t even made this purchase!
I made sure to contact the official Apple immediately, and as it turns out, I was included in a huge online scam operation with posers acting as Apple trying to obtain unsuspecting customers’ details. The email contents looked real and official, even going as far to use the correct font and official logo– the email address did not real which is what alerted me.
Tip: Make sure to double check with the official company if you receive any odd looking emails asking for money or your details. Never input your information without confirming whether the email is genuine or not. Most companies would not even ask for your details by email.
4. Beware of free delivery on larger items
There have been many instances on eBay where private sellers are offering free delivery on large items such as trailers or tractors. The seller, who may possibly be using the hacked account of a genuine seller, offers to send the item for free via courier once payment has been received.
The problem is; most of these disingenuous sellers insist on being paid by bank transfer in advance and you will therefore lose your money if the item does not arrive.
Tip: Always collect larger/expensive items yourself and only pay a seller when you’re truly sure that what you are buying exists.
5. Deals outside an official channel
Some online auction sellers may offer to do a deal outside of the usual channels, therefore splitting the savings they will make by not having to pay commission with you.
It is up to you whether you think this is ethical, but, it is to be pointed out that you will lose pretty much all of your consumer protection if you do so.
Tip: By paying the extra and sticking to the rules, you will be protected if things go wrong – hence the reason it costs you more in the first place.
If you have ever been the victim of online shopping fraud, you can report it to the Police here.