March 4, 2012

Shopping Online Safely: The Most Common Risks

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    Shopping online can often expose you to unnecessary risks and often people get duped into giving away their credit card details to fraudulent companies. However with caution you can avoid most credit card fraud and avoid the unnecessary hassle of cancelled cards and unexpected bills. With that in mind we’ve put together a list of the most common credit card frauds with advice on how to avoid them. If you shop online or intend to this is a great way to keep yourself safe so worth taking to heart.

    Dummy sites

    One of the most common was people take your credit card details is by using dummy sites. These will be an almost exact clone of a high profile company’s site with very little surface difference to the company’s real site. The first point of call here is to examine the address bar and check that it looks like an original site. For example take , now this is changed per country to /au etc. However criminal networks frequently set up dummy sites like or etc in order to steal people’s log in details and ultimately their money. Checking the address bar is a great way to check that you are on the official site of any company you are shopping with. If you are in any doubt do a direct search engine search for the company if it is one you know or check there registered contact details to ensure they are a real company.

    Virus pop-ups

    An increasingly common problem and one that is increasingly complex. The simple premise of these viruses is that they prevent you from accessing your files or the internet as they have detected a virus that could potentially harm your computer. These virus scans look very legitimate and often mirror the operating system control panel closely whilst preventing you launching any anti-virus software you may already have. If you have another computer you can usually find instructions online as to how to remove them but if not take your computer to a shop and have it fixed. Whatever you do don’t enter your credit card details. There are many variations of this type of phishing activity so always be on your guard and if you are in any doubt consult a third party or professional.

    Credit card validation

    Another common trick illegitimate sites use is to try and get you to enter your credit card details as a way to confirm your age before accessing, usually adult, content. The site will claim there are no fees attached but generally the fine print will have a rebilling clause and you will suddenly find yourself with a huge bill. This is common with adult material but is also being increasingly found elsewhere in online shopping especially “free” software downloads and other age restricted purchases.


    This is incredibly common with digital products, site memberships and with fad health products. Basically you will be offered a trial membership or discounted product at a very low or introductory rate. In the extensive fine print however will be a clause that allows the company to rebill you a large or small amount after a number of days. This will usually be three times a month as a large figure so that they get the maximum amount of money before you notice or it will be a modest figure that they hope will go unnoticed. Products such as Acai berries and supposed superfood mixtures are common targets for this kind of scam and you should be very careful before making these kinds of purchases. In fact generally any health products sold online will be no better than eating proper diets so don’t be tempted.


    Steve writes about where to buy products on the internet, in addition to using shopping portals such as ShopAndEarn where you can earn rewards for items purchased online -


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