Are You Shopping Safely Online? Here are 7 tips to help you spot fake online shops.

According to the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) 2021 Online Purchase Scams Report, out of 9,821 unsafe website URLs reported to BBB Scam Tracker, only 11 were found in Google Safe Browsing. 

While harmful sites are being marked and taken down, new ones are being launched daily. Practice safer online shopping with these helpful tips.

1️⃣ Look for the lock

A website is secure when there is a small lock icon on the address bar and “https” in the URL (the s stands for “secure”). While the lock icon doesn’t determine if a website is a scam, it shows the site has some form of protection from being hacked. If the website only has “http” in the URL, do not give your personal or payment information.

2️⃣ Inspect the web address

Fake sites will often have web addresses that are similar to well-known brand names with a letter or character out of place, a different domain extension, or sometimes a subdomain.

3️⃣ Verify site seals

Scammers are great at making a website and email look official by copying official seals and other features. If the business has any trust seals, you can check the validity by looking up the company on the seal’s official website.

4️⃣ Look for contact information and policies

Check for multiple types of contact information, like phone, email, physical address, and online chat. Be cautious of a website that doesn’t have multiple forms of contact.

If a company is selling a product online, it should have a shipping and return policy that’s clear and easy to understand. The website should also have terms and conditions and a privacy policy that explains what information it collects from you, how it’ll use the data, and how it stores the information.

5️⃣ Examine content for spelling and grammar errors

A legitimate business would take great care in making their website look professional. Excessive spelling and grammar errors could be a sign that the website went up quickly.

6️⃣Check the site’s domain age

Fake sites often have a short lifespan before they are taken down. You can find out how long a domain has been active with online tools. If a website is new, be extra careful.

7️⃣ Do your research

Conduct a simple search for company reviews. A legitimate site should have reviews that are recent and detailed about the product or service. Fake reviews are often generic, brief, not descriptive, and sometimes similar to one another.

Search the website’s name with the word “scam.” If others have fallen victim to a fake site, you will likely find these reports.

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FTC highlights the importance of securing your customer’s data in accordance with your Privacy Policy

The operators of the MoviePass subscription service recently agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that they failed to take reasonable steps to secure subscribers’ personal data.

MoviePass collected names, email addresses, birth dates, credit card numbers, and geolocation information. MoviePass then stored personal data including financial information and email addresses in plain text and failed to impose restrictions on who could access it despite having a Privacy Policy stating they should use reasonable measures to protect personal information including encrypting customer emails and payment information. For more details (and more wrongdoings) go here.

Your Privacy Policy is important! Make sure your practices align with your Privacy Policy!

Contact me if you need help with creating or revising a solid Privacy Policy!

When do you need a Privacy Law professional?

Q: When do you need a Privacy Law professional?

A: When you are collecting and receiving data about people–like their names, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, payment information, demographics, or more. If you collect one or more pieces of data like that, you probably need a privacy policy, disclosures, and consent!

Over the last 12 months, European data protection authorities imposed fines totaling USD$192 million. Lawsuits and fines for misusing personal data can be hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for medium to large businesses.

Feel free to schedule a free 15 min consult with me to see if I can help!


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