Don’t Be a Victim: Protect Yourself From Online Shopping Scams Linked to Social Media

Shopping online? A surprising number of people fall for online shopping scams.

Newly published data from Lloyds Banking Group revealed that over two-thirds of online shopping scams begin on the social media platforms Instagram and Facebook.

Spot a Scam

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This alarming figure signifies how savvy fraudsters are utilizing social media to prey on unsuspecting shoppers searching for a deal. There has been a rise in online scammers creating fake business pages, social media ads, and even fake online stores.


Fortunately, Nick Drewe, Retail Expert at online discounts platform, Wethrift, has compiled a list of key things that you can be vigilant for when spotting a purchasing scam on social media.


Is the Deal Too Good To Be True?

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If a ‘deal’ you see circulating around social media looks too good to be true, that means it probably is. A product or service being advertised on social media for what seems an excessively low price can be a sure indicator of a potential purchase scam. Always trust your gut and use logic for whether a deal is legitimate or not.


Is the Business Page New?

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Fraudsters are getting savvy when it comes to replicating a brand’s social media pages or creating an entirely fake retailer, so it’s important to check out the page itself.


Does the page seem new, with a lack of posts, low followers/likes, and engagement? This could indicate that the page is fake and merely attempting to replicate an established business or a new division of a business.


Is the Branding Correct?

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Often, when scammers are replicating a brand’s page, they can get a little sloppy when it comes to branding. Low-quality images and logos, poorly photoshopped designs, or using outdated branding are key things to look out for on a brand’s social media page.


Does the URL Look Suspicious?

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Hover your cursor over the URL the post or ad is asking you to click through to, but don’t click until you’re sure it’s safe. Do a quick Google search for the brand name and check that the URL matches the official site.


Often, social media purchase scammers will create a URL that is a close resemblance, but there will often be subtle differences that could easily be missed.


Are You Being Asked To Pay via Bank Transfer?

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The majority of purchase scams on social media will ask unsuspecting shoppers to pay for items via bank transfer. No legitimate business will ask for you to do this, so this is a sure sign of a scam.


Always shop on social media with a retailer who facilitates paying through secure methods such as credit cards or PayPal, which has buyer protection.


A secure website URL that you see on social media will always have ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol at the beginning of the URL, which means it is safe to purchase goods through.


Don’t Be Fooled Just Because It’s a Paid Advertisement

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Often, many shoppers can be tricked into believing a retailer is legit due to them using paid social media ads. Remember, any business page can create an ad on Facebook and Instagram, so don’t automatically assume that a paid ad is safe to click through and purchase goods from.


Look for Reviews

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No reviews are a sure sign that a business page on social media is fake – look at the reviews section on the Facebook page and do a quick Google search for “[brand name] reviews.”

If there are reviews, make sure that the reviews directly reference the item you are purchasing. Sometimes sellers hijack existing reviews to make it seem like their product is legit.


Check With the Company Directly

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If you are still unsure, it’s always better to be safe than sorry – contact the brand directly through their official channels to ensure that a deal you see promoted on social media is legitimate and safe.

Shop Deals That Have Been Promoted From Official Channels

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The rise of online purchase scams on social media signifies how important it is to only shop deals that come from official channels, such as signing up to your favorite brand’s mailing lists to access deals.

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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.