Scam Ads & How to Avoid Them

Scam Ads & How to Avoid Them

Have you ever seen an ad online that seemed too good to be true? The price is super low, or the products available are out of stock everywhere else. It’s good to be skeptical, as more and more scam ads are popping up and leaving customers with no product, or a sub-par version of the product and no refund. These scammers lure unsuspecting shoppers with fake deals on everything from cosmetics and clothing to health supplements and even products for your pets. As scammers become more advanced with professional photos and security certificates on their websites, it becomes more difficult for even skeptical shoppers to distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake.

Here are four ways to protect yourself from buying into scam ads.

1.  Be Suspicious

You know how the saying goes, “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” For example, when you come across an ad for a dress that looks much more expensive than the sale price, proceed with caution. It may be real, especially if the ad shows nice product images, but it could also be a low-quality knockoff. Ensure that the business offers a detailed description of the product, including multiple photos of the item, exact dimensions, and a size chart featuring sizing from different countries.  

2. Do a Little Research

If you want to take a chance on an unfamiliar company, first do some research. Ensure the business you are buying from has shared their contact information, like an email address, phone number, and physical address, so you can get in touch with their customer service if there is an issue after you make a purchase. Then before buying, verify the information is accurate. Is the address, in fact, a real place? Does the phone number work? Send a test email and see if and how quickly you get a reply. Next, visit the advertiser’s social media pages and check for reviews or comments to see if anyone else has brought from them and what their experience was. If there are no negative comments or reviews, it’s a red flag. Be aware that positive comments can be faked by scammers too! 

3. Understand All Policies

When it comes to shipping costs and returns, ensure the sellers provide a clear commitment to the buyer. The advertiser should provide upfront shipping costs and delivery time, so the buyer knows what to expect. A scammer may try to offer a dispatch time, which is very different from a shipping time. A reputable company will also often disclose tracking information. You should also confirm if the business has a detailed return policy, stating the time frame for return, if there is a restocking fee, and if shipping is free or charged to the customer. Be aware that sometimes the cost to return an internationally shipped product is more than what you paid for it. 

4. Use Secure Payment Methods

Before putting in any payment information, you should confirm the payment process is done through a secure connection. Check if the website starts with “https” and has a lock icon next to it indicating an SSL Certificate. Any website that doesn’t have an SSL certificate is a danger to the security and privacy of those who submit credit card data, social security numbers, usernames, passwords, and other personal information. 

At the end of the day, to avoid getting scammed, you have to learn how to protect yourself. If you’re looking for more cybersecurity tips, GTS can help. We offer a variety of security solutions and are happy to identify places where your defenses could be stronger. Give us a call at (904) 606-6011 or email to learn more.


Paul May