Unfortunately, we are living in desperate times. COVID-19 coupled with technology has unemployed masses of people worldwide. Shelter-in-place and state shutdowns have increased the online business world, but there has been an increase in cybercrime and online marketing scams also.
Cyber Crime Up 600%
How I Fell Victim to an Online Scam
Recently, I wanted to purchase a water cooler so I googled “water cooler” and many advertisements poped-up. My wife and I chose the one we liked and were redirected to the online store in which the water cooler was sold. Before making the purchase I looked for the location of the company and product in order to estimate approximate delivery time. The business address was Bellingham, WA (within the USA) so we made the purchase.
We were sent a confirmation email and a few days later we were sent a tracking number. I performed a track of my purchase to find the product was shipping from China. I immediately went to the website to look for contact information. There was only an email address. I emailed them and stated “If the business and product are in Bellingham, WA why is the product coming from China?” The listing states the product is located in Bellingham, WA. I was informed via email that all products come from China. 🙁
A few days later the website and email were shut down. I should have googled the business to see if it had complaints and for customer reviews then I would have seen that this was a SCAM. Fortunately for me, the lesson was not very expensive.
What to Look For When Purchasing Online
There are several ways to find out if an online business is a scam. As mentioned previously, whenever you are choosing to make an online purchase if the company is not a well-known company with a proven track record (good reviews) I would suggest doing more research about the business. Google is an effective tool for researching internet businesses and ftc.gov/scams is another helpful resource.
How to Avoid Online Scams
There is really no way to dodge all of the scams being thrown at us every day. This is a fact, but there are some things that we can do to lessen the possibility of being scammed:
- Ensure seller/company has a physical address, phone number, and email that work
- Look for “padlock” next to URL (web address) to ensure the website is secure
- Google the company looking for complaints and reviews
There is no full-proof method to employ to avoid being scammed online. Even scammers have been scammed. Once again, check out the company before you transact the business.
Immediate Action Steps to Take If You are Scammed
If you think you have been scammed online here are a few steps that you can take:
- Collect all documentation related to the scam
- Dispute any transaction(s) with your bank or credit card company
- Report the cybercrime to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
Technology has been slowly replacing the human workforce. Read… COVID-19 has accelerated the process of replacing people with automation. People are becoming very desperate to put money in their pockets. The internet is the new platform for committing crimes, so we must be aware and vigilant in order to lessen the possibility of being a cybercrime victim. Before making an online purchase check out the website/seller/company. If you should fall prey to an online scam take the steps previously mentioned to recoup any loss.
If you are feeling the effects of a lay-off due to COVID-19 or technology replacement click here to explore a possible means of income restoration. Until next week, be safe and be prosperous.