Don't Fall Victim: 10 Risks of Online Shopping

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Team Waffle
February 27, 2023
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While the sun shines this Saturday afternoon, you decide to spend some time looking for new clothes online. You find a few cute items from an online store and buy them immediately. The checkout process is so quick and easy that your order is complete before you know it!

A few days after you made an online purchase, you become anxious when you still haven't received your order or any communications from the company. After futilely trying to find the company's contact information, you check your bank account, only to notice that way more money has been taken out than what you had paid for.

This is the sinking feeling in your stomach when you realize you've been scammed online.

Online shopping is a great convenience that comes with some risks. You could lose money or get scammed if you're not careful. In this blog post, we'll discuss 10 of the biggest risks of online shopping. By being aware of these risks, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim!

Top 10 Risks of Online Shopping

1. Fake Websites

When you're shopping online, it's important to make sure that you're on a legitimate website. Unfortunately, many fake websites are created for the sole purpose of scamming people. These websites may look identical to a real website, but they'll usually have some small differences.

Here's how to spot a fake website:

Check the URL

One way to check if a website is fake is to look at the URL. A legitimate website will usually have a URL that starts with "https://" while a fake website may just have "http://". The "s" in https stands for "secure", which means that your information will be encrypted when you're on the website.

Another way to check the URL is to see if there's a green lock next to it. This indicates that the website is secure and that your information will be safe.

Look for Misspellings or Grammatical errors

Another red flag of a fake website is if there are misspellings or grammatical errors on the site. Real websites take care to proof their site before putting it up, so errors are unlikely. If you see errors on a website, be wary of giving them your personal information.

Check the Contact Information

If a website doesn't have any contact information, it's probably fake. Legitimate websites will usually have an email address, phone number, or physical address listed somewhere on their site. This allows you to get in touch with them if you have any questions or problems.

If you can't find any contact information on a website, proceed with caution. You may want to do a bit more research to see if the site is legitimate before making a purchase.

Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals

If you see a deal that's too good to be true, it probably is. Many scammers will advertise fake products at ridiculously low prices in order to lure people in. Once you've paid for the product, you'll never receive it and your money will be gone.

Fake websites will often try to get your personal information such as your credit card number or social security number. If you enter your information on one of these websites, you could become a victim of identity theft. Always make sure you're on a legitimate website before entering any personal information!

2. Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are a type of online scam where scammers send emails that look like they're from a legitimate company. These emails often try to get you to click on a link or enter your personal information. If you do, the scammers will have access to your account or your personal information.

To avoid falling for a phishing email, be wary of any emails that:

  • Asks you to click on a link
  • Asks you to enter  or update your personal information
  • Contains grammar or spelling errors
  • Is from an unknown sender or an unfamiliar sender

If you're ever unsure about an email, you can always contact the company directly to ask if they sent it. Most companies have procedures in place to deal with phishing emails, so they'll be happy to help you out.

3. Fake Reviews

It's essential to be mindful that some reviews for a product may not be real. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who'll write phony reviews as a means to endorse either a product or a website. Oftentimes, these types of reviews are easy to detect because they're either too positive or negative in nature.

If all of the reviews for a product are glowing, it's possible that they're fake. Likewise, if all of the reviews are negative, there's a chance that they're not real. It's always best to read a mix of reviews before making a decision.

Here are a few ways to identify fake reviews:

  • All of the reviews are either too positive or too negative
  • The reviews are not detailed
  • The reviewer seems to be affiliated with the company
  • There is only one review for the product

4. Public Wifi

When using public wifi, it's important to be aware of the risks. Many scammers will set up fake wifi networks to steal people's information. If you connect to one of these networks, the scammers will be able to see everything you're doing online. This includes any passwords or credit card numbers you enter.

To protect yourself, only connect to trusted wifi networks. Avoid using public wifi when possible, and if you must use it, make sure you're not entering any sensitive information.

5. Data Breaches

A data breach is when a hacker gains access to a company's confidential information. This information can include things like credit card numbers, social security numbers, and addresses. If you've ever shopped online, there's a chance that your personal information has been involved in a data breach.

Data breaches are becoming more common, and they're one of the biggest risks of shopping online. If a company does not have proper security measures in place, hackers can easily gain access to customers' sensitive information.

Here's how to stay prepared in case your information is leaked from a data breach:

  • Keep an eye on your credit card and bank statements for any suspicious activity
  • Be aware of any phishing emails or calls you may receive
  • Change your passwords frequently
  • Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts

6. Unencrypted Data & Unsecure Payment Methods

Encrypted data is data that has been converted into a code to protect it from unauthorized access. Sites that don't use encryption or have unsecure payment methods are putting their customers at risk of having their personal information stolen.

HTTPS in the URL

When you're shopping online, it's important to make sure that the website you're using is secure. One way to tell if a website is secure is by looking for the "https" in the URL. This means that the site is using encryption to protect your information.

Only Use Secure Payment Methods

Another way to tell if a website is secure is by looking at the payment methods they accept. If a website only accepts unsecure payment methods, such as wire transfers, money orders, or Western Union, then it's likely not a legitimate site. Stick to websites that accept secure payment methods, such as credit cards or PayPal.

A secure payment method is key when you're shopping online. This means using credit cards or PayPal over wire transfers. The reason? Credit cards and PayPal typically have fraud protection policies, so your information will be more safeguarded with these methods.

Be Aware of Bogus Charges

Bogus charges are when you're charged for something you didn't purchase. This can happen if your credit card number is stolen and used by someone else. It can also happen if you enter your credit card information on a fake website. Bogus charges can be costly and difficult to resolve, so it's important to be careful when shopping online.

Here are a few ways to avoid bogus charges:

  • Never enter your credit card information on a site that doesn't have HTTPS in the URL
  • Be cautious of sites that ask for too much personal information
  • Review your credit card statements regularly for any suspicious charges

7. Spyware

Spyware is a type of software that collects information about you without your knowledge. This information can include things like your browsing history, passwords, and credit card numbers.

Spyware can be installed on your computer without your knowledge, usually through malicious websites or email attachments. Once it's installed, it's difficult to remove and can put you at risk of identity theft or financial fraud.

To protect yourself from spyware, only shop on trusted websites and be careful of the email attachments you open. You should also have anti-spyware software installed on your computer to help detect and remove any spyware that you may come across.

8. Adware

Adware is a type of software that displays advertising on your computer. It can be installed without your knowledge and is usually bundled with other free programs. Adware can be difficult to remove and can slow down your computer.

Mobile phones and apps are not immune to adware. In fact, many free apps contain adware in order to generate revenue. Adware can be annoying and intrusive, displaying popup ads or redirecting you to advertisements. It can also be difficult to remove, often coming bundled with other programs.

To protect yourself from adware, only install programs from trusted sources!

9. Malware

Malware is a type of software that's designed to harm your computer. It can secretly install itself and do things like steal your personal information or delete files. Malware can also be used to take control of your computer and use it to attack other computers.

There are many ways that you can get malware on your computer:

  • Malware can be installed without your knowledge, usually through malicious websites or email attachments.
  • Malware can be bundled with other free downloadable programs.
  • Many free apps contain malware in order to generate revenue.
  • Malware can be installed on your computer through Trojan horses.
  • You may download infected files from the internet without realizing it.

To protect yourself from malware, you should:

  • Only download programs from trusted sources.
  • Have strong anti-malware software installed on your computer.
  • Be careful of the websites you visit and only download files from trusted websites.
  • Never click on links in emails unless you are 100% sure they are legitimate.
  • Never enter your personal information or login credentials on a website unless you are sure it is legitimate.
  • If you receive a suspicious phone call, do not give out any personal information.
  • Be cautious of websites that ask for too much personal information.

By following these tips, you can protect yourself from malware!

10. Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts your files and holds them hostage until you pay a ransom. This can be a very costly and stressful experience, as you may not be able to access important files or documents. In some cases, you may not be able to recover your files at all!

We highly recommend you look into personal cyber insurance! Coverage options include identity theft, cyber financial fraud, cyber breach of privacy, and even cyber extortion.

Cyber Extortion

When someone threatens to share, destroy, use, or restrict you from using your electronic device or data unless you pay them a ransom.

By investing in personal cyber insurance, you are taking one concrete step to prepare against the harmful consequences of a ransomware attack.


In conclusion, there are many risks associated with online shopping. However, by being aware of these risks, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim. Before you hit the "buy" button online, always take a few extra minutes to double-check that everything looks correct. If something seems off, don't be afraid to reach out to customer service for help. A quick call or email could save you from accidentally making a purchase you'll regret later. Happy shopping!