7 Ways To Avoid Online Shopping Scams

The warning signs you need to look out for.

By Singapore Police Force        3 March 2021

The digital age has brought about many wondrous technological advancements; from augmented reality and cryptocurrency, to face-swapping filters and short form videos of people doing the strangest things. But with advances come a new breed of scammers who lurk in the deep, dark corners of the web, lying in wait for their next victim. These masters of deception have evolved with the times, and are getting increasingly cunning in their ploys.

Check It Out Before Checking Out

Online shopping has become such an integral part of our lives, that we buy practically all that we need such as groceries, food, daily necessities, electronic gadgets, online. The Covid-19 pandemic that started in 2020 helped boost online shopping activities further, but that increase also led to an increase in e-commerce scams in 2020.

To avoid getting scammed, you need to stay vigilant and exercise diligence before you confirm any payments online. Here are some ways that you can protect yourself from becoming an unwilling participant of an e-commerce scam:

  1. If you’re dealing with a seller on an online marketplace, find out how the website deals with payment issues and solves disputes.
  2. Try to use platforms that release your payment to the seller only after you have received the item.
  3. Take a look at the seller’s reviews and keep an eye out for any red flags. Keep in mind, though, that reviews can be faked so don’t rely solely on this.
  4. For person-to-person platforms such as Carousell, always insist on making payment after collecting your items or use Carousell Protection to ensure that your transaction is protected.
  5. Keep your conversations with the seller within the platform. Scammers will try to lure victims out of the platform to avoid detection. So, if a seller insists that you take the conversation to other messaging platforms, it’s a red flag.
  6. Avoid making direct bank transfers. Scammers will often insist on direct bank transfers as payment as the money can easily be transferred out to another account after payment has been made.
  7. Use credit cards or other payment modes that offer purchase protection to their customers. This will provide you with a channel to seek recourse if a purchase goes awry.

E-commerce scams can easily be avoided if we can be vigilant and take these additional steps to protect our transactions.

Remember, if we can spot the signs, we can stop the crimes.

Did You Know….

  • E-commerce scams remain the top scam type, with the highest number of reported cases in 2020.
  • Scam cases increased by 19.1% to 3,354 cases in 2020, from 2,816 cases in 2019.
  • The total amount scammed increased to $6.9 million in 2020, from $2.3 million in 2019.

Have you encountered an online scammer? Share your experience with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg

Total Defence Day falls on 15 February. Digital Defence is the new sixth pillar of Total Defence. In the fight against threats from the digital domain, prevention is key and everyone has a part to play. Singaporeans should keep a lookout for and proactively protect themselves from threats such as phishing and attempted intrusions. They should be aware of ongoing cybersecurity issues and learn how to take personal actions to counter these threats.