How to help prevent fraud: online shopping scams

Excerpts of a TD Newsroom article on the same topic published May 19, 2020.

From grocery stores that offer online ordering and pickup or delivery services, to more and more small local businesses pivoting to online sales, there are nearly endless opportunities for consumers to shop online.

How to spot fake online shopping websites and listings

Online shopping scams continue to grow in terms of sophistication as fraudsters constantly seek new ways of targeting consumers. However, there are still some common tell-tale signs of scams you can look out for:

Reviews don’t seem genuine

"If you’re shopping for a product, be sure to read customer reviews if available – they can help you make your purchase decisions. But take them with a grain of salt, as reviews are not always what they seem," she said.

"If the reviews seem poorly written, or are all very short and similar, they may not be legitimate reviews," she said. "They could be an indication the retailer is trying to sell poor quality goods."

"Scammers selling poor quality goods have been known to post countless fake online reviews to help sell their wares," McKinnon said.

The price is too good to be true

Saving money is often a consideration, and online shopping allows you to compare prices easily. But be wary – rock bottom prices that seem too good to be true usually are.

"There are fraudsters who post items for sale at unbelievably low prices with the fraudulent intention of capturing a customer's payment credentials, rather than actually selling the item," McKinnon said.

How to protect yourself from online scams

Whether you're new to online shopping or are a seasoned e-shopper, here are a few key tips you should keep in mind to help avoid online shopping scams:

Shop with familiar vendors

If you've never shopped online before, a good place to start is with an established retailer you're familiar with.

"Established retailers are more likely to have proper shopping and payment protocols, as well as customer service channels, so they are a good test run for new online shoppers," McKinnon said. But just because a retailer isn't a larger, more established business doesn't mean they shouldn't be trusted with online purchases.

"Many Canadians are looking for ways to help support local businesses right now," McKinnon said.

"If your local businesses have secure e-commerce channels or websites, shopping online with them could be an option. Whether it’s a big or small business, they should be a trusted and familiar source to you and their website should display as a secure site."

Be smart about how you pay

Small local vendors or independent sellers that haven't established a fulsome e-commerce site yet may be offering to sell and deliver goods and accepting Interac e-Transfers® for payment. "Customers must be vigilant and only send funds via email money transfers to people – or in this case, retailers – that they know and trust," McKinnon said.

"Once an email money transfer is completed by the recipient, it cannot be retrieved by your bank. For online shopping, it's always best to use a credit card or debit card to pay through a secure e-commerce channel if you can," she said.

Keep track of your transactions

"We all have a role to play in helping to prevent fraud, and one of the best ways to protect yourself is to regularly check your transactions for fraudulent activity."

Use tools like TD MySpend, which enables TD customers to track transactions made via TD debit and credit cards in real time, and TD Fraud Alerts, which sends a notification to TD customers by text message if suspicious activity is detected on personal banking accounts.

Interac e-Transfer is a registered trade-mark of Interac Corp. Used under licence.

This content discusses current topics of interest in a general and informational manner only and may not be appropriate in all circumstances. Please ensure that you seek advice personalized for your situation from the appropriate professional, consultant or subject matter expert on the topic of interest to you.

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