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Scammers pretend to be real businesses online by setting up fake websites that look like genuine online stores or by creating advertisements on legitimate sites to trick you into clicking on them.

Advertisements for these fake businesses can sometimes appear in your social media feed. Online scams can be difficult to spot, so you need to take steps to check whenever you shop online.

  • Start with doing your research to know who you’re buying from.
  • Be on the lookout for fake shopping sites.
  • Use secure payment methods when you’re ready to purchase.
  • Watch out for fake parcel delivery scams when you’re waiting for your items.

Online shopping scams copy the designs and logos from legitimate businesses to appear real. These scammers keep your money after you make a purchase (which you never receive) and they can make further fraudulent charges on your credit card if you’ve given them your financial details.

What to look out for

  • Strange methods of payment. This is often the biggest tip-off. Scammers may request payment using electronic funds transfer (e.g. Western Union, Money Gram), money order, pre-loaded money card or wire service. They might also ask for payment by gift card or in cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Paying with these methods means you’re unlikely to get your money back, and you probably won’t receive your items.
  • Too good to be true. These scams often advertise benefits or items at unbelievably low prices.
  • Strange web address. The link from the advertisement appears genuine but when you click on it, the link takes you to a different address away from the seller’s website address.
  • No customer reviews. Be wary of social media shopping pages that are very new, selling products at very low prices and don’t have any customer reviews. Sometimes the conversation on social media about the company is one-way and comments are made by the page owner only and not from customers. After making a number of sales, social media scam stores will disappear.
  • No contact details or store policies. Be wary of companies whose websites provide no contact details or information about their privacy and returns policies, or their terms and conditions of use.

Online shopping

There are some steps you can take to protect yourself when shopping online. Head to our shopping online page for more information including a handy online shopping checklist. 

Get help

Go to our Get Help page for steps you can take quickly to protect yourself from further harm, report the scam, or seek assistance if you’ve been the victim of identity theft.