From recognising a legitimate customs charge to following your gut, these tips could help you avoid online shopping scams.
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In the digital age, online shopping has become a popular way to purchase goods and services. From the comfort of our homes, we can browse products, compare prices, and have almost anything delivered right to our doorstep. And with almost one million parcels being delivered by An Post each week, it is safe to say that many of us are enjoying the convenience.
However, with the rise of online shopping, there has also been an increase in online shopping scams. These scams can leave unsuspecting consumers with empty pockets and a bitter taste in their mouths.
Thankfully, there are ways to spot these shopping scams and protect yourself from falling victim. And we’ve listed some of them below.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
One of the first signs of a potential scam is an unbelievably good deal. We all love a bargain, but if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often lure victims in with heavily discounted prices on popular items, enticing them to purchase without thinking twice. So, before you click that “Buy Now” button, take a moment to research the seller, compare prices on different websites, and read reviews from other customers. An extra ounce of caution can save you from a costly mistake.
Trust your gut
Another red flag to watch out for is poor website design and functionality. Legitimate online retailers invest time and effort into creating user-friendly platforms that inspire trust. If you stumble upon a website that looks outdated, has broken links, or contains grammatical errors and typos, proceed with caution. Scammers often hastily throw together websites to dupe unsuspecting shoppers. Trust your gut instinct, and if something feels off, it’s best to steer clear.
The second sign of a scam is receiving an SMS or email asking you to click on a link to make a payment. This is how scammers can get access to your accounts. If you order something from outside the EU, An Post will send you an SMS, postcard or email informing you, you need to pay customs charges. However, it is important to remember that An Post will never ask you to pay these customs charges using a link in the SMS or email.
Understand and recognise legitimate customs charges
If you are ordering a package from outside the EU, you will have to pay customs charges at the point of purchase or before delivery. So it’s important to recognise the difference between official communication about your charges and a potential scam.
An Post will send you a customs charge notification via email and postcard. However, scammers may use their name or logo to give a false sense of legitimacy. Again, keep in mind that any text or email asking for personal information or asking you to click a link to pay is most likely a scam. And if you receive any suspicious communication claiming to be from An Post, be sure to verify the message’s authenticity. Webchat is the fastest way to get in touch directly with the An Post Customer Service Team. The Team are available 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 2pm on a Saturday.
Opt for secure payments only
Payment methods can also reveal a lot about the legitimacy of an online store. Reputable retailers offer secure payment options like credit cards, PayPal, or established payment gateways. Be wary of websites that only accept wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or prepaid cards, as these methods offer little to no buyer protection. If a seller insists on using these payment methods, consider it a warning sign and refrain from making any transactions.
Don’t share sensitive data
When it comes to online shopping scams, it’s crucial to be cautious when sharing personal and financial information. Legitimate retailers will never ask for your bank account details, personal information such as your mother’s maiden name and date of birth or passwords via email or online messaging. Scammers often pose as customer service representatives and request sensitive information to gain unauthorised access to your accounts. Remember, reputable companies will have secure communication channels and will never ask for unnecessary personal information.
Lastly, trust your instincts and be sceptical if a seller puts pressure on you to make an immediate purchase. Scammers often create a sense of urgency to prevent potential victims from taking the time to investigate further. Remember, a genuine seller will understand if you need to do some research or think it over before making a purchase.
Online shopping scams continue to be a prevalent issue in today’s digital landscape. By staying vigilant and following these tips, you can protect yourself from falling victim to fraudulent schemes. Remember to research sellers, be cautious of unbelievably low prices, pay attention to website design and functionality, use secure payment methods, and be sceptical of requests for personal information. And always remember, if something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is. Stay safe and happy online shopping!
For more information about how customs charges work, visit An Post’s website here.