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Online Frauds Part 1 : Shopping Frauds

online shopping frauds
“Ensure that the website, seller and payment modes are secure before you binge on e-commerce sites.”

There is no doubt in the convenience of online shopping, be it for electronic gadgets or household appliances, clothes or furniture. Sadly, this has also led to online shopping frauds from new cheating techniques and sale/delivery loopholes.

Modus operandi:

When you order online, it’s possible that the product may not be delivered at all or that you land on a fake or damaged product. You may even get an empty package or, worse, one filled with stones.
The problem can occur at any stage, for which you need to understand the sale and delivery process. There are sites that sell and deliver their own products like Fabindia. There are others that serve as a platform for various sellers. These are marketplaces, like Flipkart, Amazon or Snapdeal, which host products by different brands and sellers. These products may be delivered either by the site itself or the seller. In most cases, it’s the seller who delivers. Some sites also provide special services, wherein product quality and delivery are guaranteed, for a premium. Here the site sources products from other sellers but conducts quality checks and delivers them itself. For instance, Flipkart is set to launch FAssured, promising improved delivery service and stricter quality checks, while Amazon Prime is the paid service that offers similar advantages to its members. Here are the various points at which online shopping frauds can occur:

Fake website:

Tech-savvy scamsters set up sites that look like genuine ones with similar logos and domain names. Some may create a dummy site with a product line-up that only exists online. The purpose is to extract money from vulnerable buyers and disappear.

Genuine site, fake seller:

If you have not received a product, or it’s damaged or fake, the scam could be by the seller or Courier Company, not the site itself. Though such sites scan the sellers hosted by them, weeding out online shopping frauds by checking themselves or going by buyers’ ratings, it is not possible to identify all scamsters.

Courier Company:

Here, both the site and seller may not be to blame. If they fail to choose a reputed courier and go for cheaper fly-by-night operators, you could land a dummy package. A specific errant employee of the courier firm may also be responsible for the fake delivery.

Read More :- Cyber Security Tips to Combat Cyber Crime | Part 2

Preventive steps

Check the site: If you want to try out new sites, make sure to check the domain name. Ensure the URL has ‘https’ (not just ‘http’) and a lock icon, and check the site’s spelling. To find out who owns a particular domain name and if it’s genuine, log in to https://registry. In/WHOIS, which is a searchable list of every domain currently registered in the world. If the site does not offer any contact details or has a vague exchange or return policy, abandon the site. You could also check the company’s trust rating on which will give you all the details about the firm and how safe it is to shop from the site.

“Make sure the company has the right infrastructure, wherein you are able to track delivery and payment information,” says Mr.Kislay Chaudhary.

Check seller’s rating: If you have picked an established site, opt for product assurance services, if any. Wish to pay extra, go through the buyer reviews and ratings for the seller to find out if he has a good reputation for delivery.

Secure payment:

As for payment, avoid direct payment to sellers. Opt for payment services like PaisaPay in eBay, which ensures that the seller is not paid by the site till the product is delivered, safeguarding your money. Also, do not pay via electronic bank transfers because it is difficult to retrieve the money once it has left the bank. Opt for payment via credit card that has a low credit limit and is used exclusively for online shopping, or for cash on delivery, to minimise risk. An important safeguard is to make a video recording of the delivery, starting when the courier arrives till the package is opened, in a single loop without breaks. This is what serve as proof and help to get the money back.

Read More :- Modern Scam of Cyber crimes on Online Portals | Part 1

If you are cheated:

The first step is to get in touch with the website or the seller. If it’s a fake site, it’s impossible to seek redressal. Consider your money lost.

If you have opted for a safe site with a guaranteed exchange or money-back policy, you could write to the site, detailing the online shopping frauds instance, product details and mode of payment without giving sensitive information like your bank account number, etc. The site will conduct its verification within a specified time and revert. If the site doesn’t respond, you could escalate it by registering a complaint with the district or state consumer redressal forum.