Be prepared, not scared!
Shopping online in the single European market is comfortable and has many advantages. You can choose from more:
and to save time and effort to walk around the shops. For that reason, more and more EU consumers prefer to shop online. Unfortunately that does not go unnoticed by fraudsters. They are extremely creative when trying to steal your money or personal data, and then cover their tracks.
Check the trader
- Check the trader's reputation. Put their name into a search engine to see reviews of people who have already ordered from them. If the trader is incorrect, it is very likely to find a feedback from injured consumers on forums, blogs and more.
- Make sure that you buy from the EU. In specialized sites such as www.who.is you could check in which country the trader is registered.
- Check the contact details of the trader. If only feedback form and email address are left it may be impossible to contact them later.
What (not) to do
- Do not trust if the transaction involves third parties, presented as intermediaries.
- If you see an unrealistically low prices, most likely it is scam or deception (you may need to pay later extra money as hidden fees).
- Do not buy from a site, opened by a link in spam emails and messages from unknown sender.
- If you want to purchase from the site of a famous trader, check the web address to make sure you are on the right place. Phishers make duplicates of the most popular shopping sites.
For more security
- Make sure the site is secure. Look for a sign of security (e.g. anti-virus software company) that shows the site is scanned, tested and safe. Such guarantee will protect you from identity theft, credit card fraud, spam and more.
- Make sure the site uses encryption when transmitting information over the Internet by searching symbol "padlock".
- Make sure the web address begins with https:// (instead of just http://), which indicates that encryption is used.
- Use a credit card. It gives you the opportunity to dispute the fraudulent payment.
- Do not shop on the Internet from public computers. There is a risk strangers to gain access to all information that you used.
If you have already become victims of fraud
- You can challenge the transaction.
- If you ordered the goods in a large site such as ebay, you have the right to dispute the payment and to get your money, but must comply with the deadline for filing a complaint to the site (which is usually about 40 days after you made the payment.)
- Some payment systems such as paypal also allow you to dispute the payment and could return your money, but you must strictly comply with the deadline for filing a complaint.
That is not your case?
- File a complaint about the scam in the local police department of residence (even if you are shopping from another country). Attach to it copies of all documents related to the crime - photographs of the site, emails you have exchanged with the trader, documents for payments and more.
- Check if there is a special body against electronic fraud in the country of the trader to expedite the investigation and eventual arrest of fraudster.
European Consumer Centre can not help you in cases of fraud and scam.