1 August 2022
By Andrée-Anne Guénette

5 tips for safe online shopping and avoiding scams


The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures have changed consumer behaviour in many ways. Many people pivoted online to fulfil their needs, making e-commerce growing exponentially. As the popularity for e-commerce grows, so does the opportunity for fraudsters to scam individuals and busineses.
According to report1, around 13,000 cybercrime cases were reported in 2019, involving total losses of RM539 million. The number rose to 17,000 cases in 2020. In 2021, the number of cases further increased to more than 20,000, with total losses hitting RM560 million.
How to shop online safely
Attractive advertisements, branded goods and luxury lifestyles on social media can easily catch our attention. If an online deal seems too good to be true, it probably is not. So here are 5 tips to help you avoid falling victim to this kind of scam:
1.  Do your research
Always do your research first, especially when you're buying from an unfamiliar company or brand. Are there shipping charges or brokerage fees if the item is from another country? You should check this type of information before you make a purchase.
2. Make sure the seller provides all the information you need
Beware if you can’t find the following information anywhere on the site: 
  • mailing address
  • email address
  • customer service contact information
  • shipping method and estimated delivery date
  • refund, exchange and cancellation policy, including charges for returns
3. Only shop on secure sites
A secure site protects your data. To see if a site is secure, check the address bar. It should start with “https://” and have a padlock icon beside it.
Watch out for shady operators that pop up with fake online stores designed to take advantage of shoppers. Always think before you click!
4. Pay with your credit card
When you pay with your credit card, you have additional protection, making it easier to return items and get your money back. If a seller takes more than 15 days to refund your return, you have the next 60 days to request a charge back. You won’t have that option if you pay with your debit card or use a third-party payment site.
Make sure you monitor your bank statements for unusual activity especially during the festive season, and if you’re concerned you may have been scammed, get in touch with your bank as soon as possible.
5. What to do if you’ve been scammed
In the unfortunate event that you think you may have been scammed, contact your bank and report the incident immediately. Request for your card/bank account to be halted to avoid further unauthorised transactions. You may also need to lodge a police report then to report to the relevant enforcement agency. Keep all records and documentations of the sales such as bank-in slips, deposit slips, any conversation that you may have with the merchant and any related items to the sales.
The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) can also help investigate for other cases involving poor quality of products and services and unfairly priced products.
Here are more articles on financial wellness, mindful money management and other related topics:
To better manage your personal finances, talk to our advisor and let them help you plan ahead for a brighter future.

1. https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/03/28/cybersecurity-remains-one-of-malaysias-top-concerns-says-hamzah/


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