Don’t Get Scammed On The Internet
My dad sent the whole family a text about Ray-Ban having a one day sale and a link to a website. I say a website because the link was to rb-org.com instead of Ray-Ban’s actual website, Ray-Ban.com. For me this is an immediate red flag. I clicked the link, which took me to a fake Ray-Ban site that to the average internet user would likely appear to be legitimate. Due to working in e-commerce, retail, and technology I’m not the average Internet user, so I noticed even more red flags. The most obvious was that these sunglasses were marked down from the regular $225 price tag to a mere $25. What a steal! Except my hunch was the customers wouldn’t be doing all the stealing if they bought from this website.
I sent back a warning text to the whole group begging them to not even think about buying these. At best, they’re fake ray-bans and not even worth the $25, and at worst it’s a scam to steal your credit card information. But it was too late. My dad had already bought a pair and within an hour, his credit card was being used fraudulently.
This is just one example in a gigantic growing list of Internet scams. Most try to steal your credit card information or gain access to your account passwords. Others try to simply trick you into typing in your login credentials to things like Google or eBay. So, how does the average consumer navigate the real from the fake? I have a few simple suggestions.
Check the domain
If you don’t think a gigantic multi-national corporation such as Ray-Ban doesn’t own a better domain than rb-org.com, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. The easiest way to figure out a company’s real website is do a Google search; It will normally be the top link. Don’t ever log in to a website without verifying it’s the real website. There are a lot of phishing scams that will try to specifically get your banking, Google, Paypal, or Facebook passwords, just to name a few. To be safe, just type in the address to your browser. Most are just name-of-the-company.com. “In this case, what if rb-org.com is just a legitimate Ray-Ban reseller?”, you say (spoiler alert; they’re not). That brings me to my next point…
If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t
I feel like literally everyone I know owns Ray-Bans. I’m fairly sure we all paid close to full price. They’re pretty popular sunglasses and have been for decades. So why would anyone need to discount them 90%? If something seems like an amazing deal and isn’t from a well known company, just avoid it. Period. In this case, they present the amazing deal to convince you to quickly make a purchase. At that point, they’ve got your credit card number and can go on their own shopping spree. And they won’t be looking for bargains when they use your card, by the way.
Look for the padlock and “https://”
Legitimate websites should have https:// at the beginning of their domain, for the most part. I’m not going to bore you with the details, just know the ‘s’ is for ‘secure’. And when you sign in or at checkout, they should have a padlock icon next to the domain name.
If they don’t, even if you’re pretty sure it’s a legitimate website, don’t use your credit card with them. They’re not up to date on e-commerce security practices. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t make a purchase, though, because…
Use Paypal when possible
A lot of retailers, including smaller webstores, have the option to checkout using Paypal. Always do this if you have the option. It costs you absolutely nothing more, and is far more secure than giving your credit card to a retailer. In short, Paypal stores your credit card information and acts as an intermediary between you and the retailer, so they never get your actual card or bank information. You can read more about the features here if you don’t already have a Paypal account. Now, just don’t ever get your Paypal login stolen from a fraudulent email (refer to step 1).
There are probably lots of other great ways to avoid credit card fraud while shopping online, but these are a good start to protecting yourself. As for testing the validity of a viral Facebook post, you’re on your own.