Online shoppers share tips for scam prevention

As technology makes shopping online more accessible, scammers find fresh ways to tap into the world of online shopping. Scammed customers share valuable insight on how to prevent being scammed.


Hailey Riexinger

Suspicious shopping…In an attempt to find some items she’s been looking for, sophomore Morgan McCormack scours the internet in her free time. While shopping, she became skeptical as she realized she had been tricked into clicking on an unreliable website.

Due to more people switching from in-person to online shopping in the last few years, the number of people being scammed is increasing and becoming more hazardous every day.
According to site support technician Wanda Rosado, one of the biggest reasons why people are getting scammed is simply because they are not as aware as they should be.
“It’s awesome to have everything at your fingertips, but you have to be careful,” Harleysville resident Stephani Bass said.
Bass dealt with a scam when she was buying dresses off of Amazon, a common online shopping store.
Bass decided to return two of the selected dresses.
She returned the first with no issues and her money was refunded, but returning the second dress was seemingly impossible.
After many emails back and forth with the seller and only 30 days to return the dress, it was “down to the wire.”
Once informed that the dress could be returned the price came through costing more to return than the dress itself.
“We just said, ‘Alright, forget it,’ and we kept it. Lesson learned,” Bass said.
Sophomore Zach Gross was scammed while trying to get a holiday gift this year.
Gross ordered a popular figurine online and was “disappointed” when he never received it.
Looking back on his search, he realized that the website had no reviews.
Gross said that he recommends checking the reviews, both good and bad, and taking them into consideration.
According to Bass, shopping in a safe location is vital.
Bass said that shopping in a public area without a virtual private network (VPN), or using a public device can lead to hacking, identity theft, etc.
When searching for a store online, many options are available.
“If you go into the first website that you google, it’s probably not the right one,” Rosado said. “Scammers will build a store with the same name and will leave one thing out, like the dot in ‘.com’ and you probably would not notice.”
Identification of an authentic website comes in numerous forms.
According to business teacher Cheryl Boyda, “There are digital certificates online, meaning the website is digitally safe and a reputable company.”
Once logged into the domain, a lock icon next to the URL will indicate the security.
To make sure the website is legitimate, “put things on hold, log out of it and go back in for a second time,” Rosado said.
If the items are not saved, it is not authentic.
According to Harleysville Savings Bank employee Connie Keeler, when ready to checkout, a safety net can be created by setting up an account to be accessible from only one computer, making sure to use a strong, unique password and using a credit card instead of a debit card.
If a scam does occur, there are ways to handle the detriments.
Rosado said that, aside from contacting your bank or disputing charges, the Federal Trade Commision ( OFTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection should be contacted “as soon as possible.”
This way, the person who was scammed can report fraud.
“You work too hard for your money to let someone trick you out of it,” Keeler said.