The internet remains the greatest invention of the 21st Century, its importance and impact on the world cannot be overestimated. From every aspect of human interaction and relationship, the internet has made a mark across all spectrum of human life. Financially, publicly, and even politically, the Internet continues impact nations, communities, institutions, and individuals. The result of this can be seen in the birth of new ideas like e-governance, e-learning, e-banking, and of course, e-commerce, among others. The financial world is also not left out of the drastic changes the internet has brought, the immediate sign of this impact is the rising number of businesses are going online across the world, resulting in the new term e-commerce. The Internet value chain, estimated to worth $5.8t, has brought with it a lot of opportunities in all spheres of life. The E-commerce subsector is reported worth N3.05trn as more and more Nigerians are embracing online shopping systems to procure goods, services, and products. However, this comes with a challenge: the rise of fraudsters who pose as legitimate online stores and fleece unsuspecting individuals of their hard earned cash. Today I will show you tips on how to identify a fraudulent online store.
1. Insecure Internet Connection: When you open a website, especially an e-commerce website, the first thing you should look out for is the security of the connection. This can be done by checking the URL of the website, does it begin with HTTPS? If the website doesn’t, there is a high chance the website is fraudulent and you should be on guard immediately. You can also ascertain the validity of the website by checking the check out page of the website, check to see if it has HTTPS in the address bar. Some websites have a locked padlocked icon to show that the connection is secure.
2. Be On the Lookout for signs of cloning: Online fraudsters have gone a step further in luring unsuspected individuals into their clutches by cloning and copying authentic websites. Fraudsters copy every aspect of the original website hence making people believe they are on the original website. One common method is to tweak the domain name to look like the original website’s domain name. For example, Jumia could be tweaked with the nefarious domain name Jumia123, the logos and layout of the original site is then copied. However, regardless of how hard they try, it is almost impossible to clone a website completely, hence be on the lookout for signs of cloning on a website. Pay attention to the language used, the product description and quality of the images.
3. Unsafe Payment Methods: It is also important that you pay attention to the payment method used by an e-commerce website you want to patronize. The globally accepted methods of payments on e-commerce websites include Credit card, debit card, internet banking, Paypal and cash on delivery. These methods are quite traceable as such you are assured that with a little digging you can know the person who owns and runs the store. Fraudulent stores, on the other hand, make use of untraceable methods of payment, such methods include Direct Bank deposit, Moneygram, Money Order etc. If you about to patronize an e-commerce website and the website makes use of such untraceable methods, there is a high chance the website is fraudulent.
4. Vague Return Policy: A company’s return policy is one that speaks loads of how the firm runs its business. Credible stores will have a return policy that is easily understandable and easy to grasp for the average person. If you visit a website and you find the return policy vague and ambiguous, try getting across to the owners, if you also find the policy vague even after the owners tried to explain it. You can be certain the website is nefarious and it will be a good idea to desist from shopping there.
5. Poor Reviews: Reviews are not advertisements, they are opinions of individuals who have made used of the brand and service in question and as such in a better position to give much-needed direction to people who need to use the service. If you decide to do a little research on the website you want to patronize and you find the reviews you found are generally poor. You can be sure that the website is shady. You can also check out trusted reviews sites like Optima Reviews to see if you can get information about such websites.
6. Trust your guts: So you are on a website and you are there to shop and you have a gut feeling that the site you are on is fraudulent, worst of all, you can’t seem to shake this feeling. It will be best to listen to guts and leave the website. There is probably something your instincts are trying to tell you and it’s better to err on the side of caution than lose hard earned cash.
No matter how cheap a product looks, how attractive it looks likes or how much you want to have it, it is important that you adopt the tips listed here to avoid being fleeced by online fraudsters. Happy shopping!!!