Vol.1, No.5

What to do if you think an online shop scammed you

Online shopping is a wonderful tool of commerce, however for every great shopping experience there are shoppers getting scammed. Learn what to do and don’t ever be an online victim again!

Angry online shopper
Photo Credit: Sharon Dominick
Whether you are a first-time buyer or have been using the Internet to make every-day purchases, it is important that you understand not only the inherent dangers associated with online buying, but how to protect yourself from being scammed online.

With dozens of online vendors ready and willing to help you part with your cash, one of the first steps you can take as a customer to protect yourself is to research the company itself. The best place to start your research is with a few important questions:

1.Are they a well-known company, like Ebay, or are they a smaller business operating from a relatively unknown website?

2.Do they belong to the Better Business Bureau, and do they have a good selling history?

3.Do they display accurate contact information (including but not limited to a phone number, a postal address and an email address) prominently on their website?

4.Does their site offer a secure connection when asking for your credit card information?

5.Do you know someone who has had a successful experience with the vendor?

Proper research is the best way to prevent becoming a victim of online fraud, however online scammers are getting more and more creative about the ways they trick customers and fraud is unfortunately still an every-day occurrence. Luckily there are several outlets available if you have become a victim of an online scam and want to report the violators to the appropriate authorities.

Considered by many to be the number one authority on Internet fraud, the National Fraud Information Center accepts reports regarding Internet and telephone fraud throughout the United States. It is important to look over the entire website before issuing a report, however, because there are certain types of fraud (those that take place in retail stores, for example) that they do not currently investigate. Even if the NFIC cannot be helpful for your particular case, a list of federal, local and non-profit links are provided to point you in the right direction.

The Better Business Bureau has been available for irate customers since before the Internet ever existed. The BBB has implemented a user-friendly online complaint form for those affected by online fraud. For those who don't trust other fraud sites available online, the BBB provides the comfort of a company that has been around for a very long time.

When it comes to reporting online fraud, there are many groups willing to lend a helping hand. Once you have found one that you feel at ease using the one you have chosen, the most important thing you can do is keep on top of your report. In this day and age it is simply not enough to make your complaint and forget about it. Online scammers can (and often do) slip through the cracks and are never punished for their indiscretions against you. You need to make your complaint well-known if you want the company who scammed you to either change their ways or be completely shut down.