Many people don’t use ecommerce and marketplaces to buy all kinds of products in a cheaper and more convenient way because they don’t trust them. And with reason, because online fraud exists and, if you are not careful, you can fall into the nets of a scammer.

If, unfortunately, you’ve really bought some kind of product or service through an online store and you’ve been the victim of a scam, don’t resign yourself. You can report the website to the police. Here’s how to do it effectively in just 5 steps.

1. Take note of where the online scam comes from

The first thing you need to do is to gather the URL of the online store and the one of the item you bought. Also, if you exchanged any kind of message with the fraudulent website, write down the email address or phone number as well.

2. Take screenshots, they’re the evidence of the crime

Save screenshots of everything you can. Just like a detective, you have the power to gather the evidence that will help you reach a verdict. Go back to the site and take screenshots of the home page, the section where the item you bought is located, and the process until you are asked for your payment details.

You can also take screenshots of private messages you have had with the seller via email, SMS or WhatsApp.

In Windows, remember that you can make the capture with the ImprPant key and paste it wherever you want (Word, Paint, etc.). You also have the “Clipping” tool. In Mac you use Shift + Command + 3.

3. Keep your payment receipt

It will be essential that you have the payment receipt at your disposal to present it with the complaint. Whether you have made a bank transfer, a card payment or a PayPal payment, you should keep the receipts, both in digital and paper format.

At PayPal you can also open a dispute, although we assure you that this is a type of heads or tails resolution. Still, you can give it a try.

4. Put the complaint on the website

Now it’s the moment. With all the gathered information, which we recommend you take with you in print and on a pendrive or CD, go to the nearest police station and make your report. Keep a copy in case you have to file it later. Now it’s up to the police inspectors to come up with a resolution, which can take some time.

5. Avoid getting scammed again

The last step is no longer exactly about how to report a website, but how to avoid becoming a victim of online fraud. In fact, in every plan there is always a final section that aims to check that what has been implemented works.

We suggest that you search the Internet for various opinions about the website to which you are going to make a purchase. This will ensure that other people have been able to buy without any problems.

Also, make sure that the payment method is secure. Theoretically, payments by credit card, transfer or PayPal would be considered safe, but experience shows that this is not always the case. Who can assure you that the seller will send you the product after the money has been paid?

We recommend that you use the escrow method if you have a choice. This consists of the buyer not paying the seller directly, but leaving the money in a third party account on deposit. The money is not transferred from that account to the seller’s account unless the buyer receives the product and checks that everything is correct. This is the safest form of payment available today, as it avoids any possibility of fraud.

Tips and recommendations to avoid being a fraud victim

You probably think you know how things work in the world of ecommerce and marketplaces, but when it comes to online shopping you must remember that scammers are usually one step ahead. They always come up with something new every time their latest scam is discovered. That’s why you have to be on the lookout whenever you find a tempting offer or click on an intriguing pop-up window. Here are some general rules to follow before and after you order to avoid online shopping scams.

Before placing your order

  • Read the terms and conditions carefully, including the small letter.
  • Check that the seller’s address details are available on their website. Save them or print them out in case you need to return an item.
  • If the address details are not shown, you should act with caution. Make a note of the URL address of the online store.
  • Check the information on returns, commissions and shipping costs of the website in question.

 

⚠️ Warning signs

  • Very low prices. The Internet security company Norton tells us to be careful if the discounts exceed 55%.
  • Poor quality website design or in sloppy English. Real sellers or merchants pay a lot of attention to their online presence.
  • Limited or suspicious contact options. For example, they only have one contact form to fill out, or the customer service email is a Yahoo or Gmail account, not a corporate account.
  • URLs with strange words or characters (most stores only use their brand name on web pages) or unusual domains – for example, .bargain, .app or a foreign domain instead of .com or .es.

When placing your order

  • Save or print the description and the terms and conditions that appear on the seller’s screen and that you have to accept before placing your order.
  • Accept the payment by entering your card number and expiry date on the online form and follow the merchant’s instructions. If the online shop uses full authentication, it will direct you to, for example, your online banking service for identification.
  • Save or print the payment receipt that appears on your screen after you make your payment.
  • Keep the information you have saved or printed from your order safe in case you need to check or compare any data.

 

📲 If you use mobile APPs in your online shopping…

  • Be sure to read the app’s Terms and Conditions before downloading them to your mobile device, specially if you are asked to register your credit card details.
  • Use prepaid debit cards to sign up for recurring mobile app payments.

Conclusion

The convenience of being able to buy from home at any time, along with the possibility of being able to compare prices from one store to another at the click of a button, makes online shopping an increasingly recurring activity. However, it is important to take the necessary precautions to avoid falling into online scams.

To avoid being scammed, you can perform the basic practices mentioned above, such as searching for HTTPS and other identifying information about the seller, or checking the opinions of other buyers. However, none of these actions are foolproof, so if you are a victim of online shopping fraud, you should act immediately by calling your bank and filing a police report.

There is no foolproof anti-fraud method, but by following these tips, you can continue to shop online without fear of being scammed. Remember, the more precautions you take when shopping online, the less likely you are to become a fraud victim.

Goodbye to frauds

Escrow payments ensure that your product/service or payment is protected on every transaction.