Every year, millions of dollars worth of goods are bought online, and most of us are frequent users of online shopping in one way or another. But when you shop online or deal with private individuals, you can be exposed to fraud if you're not careful - which is why we've put together these dos and don'ts that are useful whether you're used to online shopping or only shop online occasionally and don't have much experience.
When shopping online, there are three main points you should always look out for. You need to:
- Be aware of fake webshops
- Be aware of scams in private transactions
- Use secure payment methods
These three points will be discussed in depth in this article. Hopefully, you'll have a better handle on safe online shopping after reading this. First, though, we'll get into why it's important to be critical in order to avoid getting scammed.
Why it's important to be critical when shopping online
There are different types of scams that you, unfortunately, can be exposed to if you are not careful when shopping on the internet. For example, risks are that:
- You never receive the goods and your money is lost.
- You receive an item that does not match the one shown on the website or in the sales ad. For example, it may be a cheap knock-off or the quality may not be as advertised.
- You never receive the product and your details are misused elsewhere.
Be aware of fake webshops
In many cases, fake webshops will look quite legitimate at first glance, so it can be difficult to tell whether you are being scammed or not. Fortunately, you can do a lot to avoid being cheated out of money or personal information by paying attention to the advice below.
But first and foremost, we always recommend slowing down when you're about to buy something on a new website. Indeed, carelessness is the biggest culprit in falling for online scams, and as online shopping has become so widespread and commonplace for most people, many will be quick to get out the payment card in an unguarded moment.
Investigate the site
After you've slowed down, always take some time to examine the site. You should always check the website's contact details and preferably the company's "About Us" page, because legitimate websites usually want to tell their story, values and mission, whereas a scam site will rarely put much effort into that.
In addition, look for the company's address, contact information and VAT number. If the website is Danish, you may also want to check whether it is e-labelled, which is a Danish labelling scheme that guarantees safe online shopping and that the webshop complies with a number of requirements and rules set out by the certification scheme.
Be critical of very cheap prices
If you see a website selling well-known branded products at big savings or at much cheaper prices than elsewhere, sound the alarm. This is a typical sign of fraud. If the price or offer is too good to be true, it usually is.
Watch out for language mistakes and "lopsided" prices when shopping
Language errors and "lopsided" prices are signs that the criminals have used machine translation and thus translated directly into Danish language and currency (if the website is Danish) from foreign sites. A legitimate site is usually professionally done with no language errors and "clean" prices, so this is a good indicator to look out for.
However, you should be aware that a scam site can also appear linguistically professional.
Check the URL
Some scam sites have taken over an old domain name, so we always recommend checking that the web address and the shop name match.
In other cases, scammers try to make the fake webshop look like a well-known brand, but there will typically be a slight change in the URL compared to the official and well-known brand the scammer is trying to imitate.
Check the shop's reviews on Google and Trustpilot
You can also try checking the company's reviews online, where you can read reviews from other shoppers. However, be aware that bad reviews are not always a sign of fraud and, conversely, positive reviews do not guarantee that the website is legitimate.
Keep an eye on the amount and shop name in the confirmation from Nets
For online purchases, you will typically receive a confirmation text or two-factor authentication from Nets. Here, you need to make sure that both the store name and the actual amount of the purchase match what you are buying.
In fact, there is a type of fraud called live phishing, where a scam shop misuses your card details to buy a completely different item on another site. And that's the purchase you might end up approving with Nets if you're not aware of the amount and the shop name.
Be aware of fraud in private transactions
Of course, there are many opportunities to trade with private individuals. For example, you can trade second-hand goods on digital sites such as DBA, Facebook Marketplace, Trendsales and eBay. But fake sales ads can hide among the legitimate ones.
In fact, fraud in private trade is a fairly widespread phenomenon, and a survey carried out by the Danish Agency for Digitisation and DKCERT in 2020 showed that around 4% of Danes had experienced fraud in private trade in the past year.
Maybe you spot a great find at a great price that you just have to snap up here and now before another buyer does. Here, we recommend - again - at all times to take a breath and slow down. This advice applies whether you're buying or selling second-hand goods.
Check the seller's or buyer's information
If you have any doubts about the credibility of the buyer or seller, you can check whether their identity has been validated with NemID or MitID on the service in question.
You can also check their Facebook profile. Here, the danger signs will be if the profile is newly created, has very few friends and lacks a profile picture. You can also Google the name to make sure they exist.
Last but not least, you should also pay attention to whether the same name is repeated across the profiles on e.g. DBA, Facebook and Mobilepay in case of payment.
Meet the buyer or seller in person
Whether you're a buyer or a seller, it's always a good idea to meet face-to-face when trading second-hand goods.
As a buyer, you can make sure the item is as it should be before you pay for it and that you won't be ripped off.
As a seller, it's a good idea to meet face to face to make sure you get your money. You can't rely on a buyer's proof of online banking or Mobilepay, as these can be forged. Always check your own bank or Mobilepay account.
Use secure payment methods
Buying and selling online is extremely popular and therefore a breeding ground for fraudsters. But even on legitimate websites, it's important to ensure the security of your payment.
We always recommend using international debit and credit cards such as Visa or Mastercard when shopping on foreign websites, as this way you are covered in case of fraud, errors of delivery, and even in case the shop goes bankrupt. If you buy on Danish websites, you can safely use Dankort, as you can also get your money back from the bank in case of fraud.
Mobilepay is also a very secure payment method as your card details are never shared from the app. Just never share your Mobilepay password with anyone else.
However, we never recommend payment via account transfer, as this form of payment does not protect you against bankruptcy, non-delivery or fraud.
Last but not least, it is always a good idea to remember to close your browser properly after a purchase, especially if you share a computer with others. This will prevent others from getting access to your payment details.
To sum up, you should always slow down when shopping online - whether you shop with private individuals or at online shops. That way, you avoid falling into the trap of an inattentive moment.
Next, check the site for professionalism, with no language mistakes in the URL or on the page, contact details and VAT number, and prices that might be too cheap to be true. Also, always check the confirmation from Nets - do the amount and shop name match what you were given at check-out on the website?
When dealing with private individuals, check that the identity of the buyer or seller has been validated. Also, whenever possible, try to meet in person when shopping with private individuals.
Finally, we always recommend paying by credit card or Mobilepay.
A general rule of thumb is also to remember doing your awareness training to keep up your general cyber awareness.
We hope your next online shopping experience will be easy and safe!
Emilie Hartmann is a student and copywriter at Moxso, where she is a language nerd and always on the lookout for new and exciting topics to write about. She is currently doing her Master's in English, where she is primarily working in the fields of Creative Writing and Digital Humanities.View all posts by Emilie Hartmann