Protect your kids from rising social media purchase scams. Expert advice on warning signs. Keep them safe online.
Recent data released by a UK-based bank has shed light on a concerning trend: more than two-thirds of online shopping scams originate from popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. This revelation underscores the alarming efficiency with which fraudsters exploit these platforms to target unsuspecting shoppers who are eagerly searching for attractive deals. The prevalence of fake business pages, social media ads, and even counterfeit online stores has skyrocketed, posing a significant threat to individuals, particularly older children and teenagers with their own spending money, who may fall victim to these scams if they are not adequately informed about the potential dangers.
Expert Warns: Parents Must Educate Children on the Surge of Social Media Purchase Scams
Thankfully, Nick Drewe, a Retail Expert at Wethrift, an online discounts platform, has compiled a comprehensive list of key warning signs that parents can share with their children to raise awareness while browsing or making purchases via social media.
Is the deal too good to be true?
One prominent warning sign is when a deal circulating on social media appears too good to be true. If a product or service is being advertised at an unusually low price, it should raise suspicion as it is likely indicative of a potential scam. Trusting your instincts and employing logical reasoning are crucial in determining whether a deal is legitimate or not.
Is the business page new?
Another important factor to consider is the authenticity of the business page. Fraudsters have become adept at replicating established brand social media pages or creating entirely fake retailers. It is essential to scrutinize the page itself: Does it appear new with few posts, limited followers/likes, and minimal engagement? Such indicators may suggest that the page is a fake, attempting to imitate an established business or a newly formed division.
Is the branding correct?
Moreover, paying attention to branding details can provide valuable insights. Scammers often make mistakes when replicating a brand’s page, resulting in low-quality images and logos, poorly photoshopped designs, or the use of outdated branding. These discrepancies can be red flags on a brand’s social media page.
Does the URL look suspicious?
Carefully examining the URL is another crucial step in identifying potential scams. Hovering the cursor over the URL provided in a post or ad, without clicking on it immediately, allows for a quick assessment of its safety. Conducting a Google search of the brand name and verifying that the URL matches the official site is advisable. Scammers may create URLs that closely resemble legitimate ones, making it easy to overlook subtle differences.
Are you being asked to pay via bank transfer?
One common trait of social media purchase scams is the request for payment via bank transfer. Legitimate businesses never ask customers to make payments in this manner, so such requests should raise suspicion and serve as a clear indication of a scam. When shopping on social media, it is advisable to choose retailers who offer secure payment methods such as credit card or PayPal, which provide buyer protection.
To ensure a secure online shopping experience, always look for a website URL that begins with “https” and features a closed padlock symbol. These indicators signify a safe platform for purchasing goods.
Don’t be fooled just because it’s a paid advertisement
It is important not to be swayed solely by paid advertisements on social media. Many shoppers can be deceived into believing that a retailer is genuine simply because they have invested in paid social media ads. However, it is essential to remember that any business page can create an ad on Facebook or Instagram, so the mere presence of a paid ad does not guarantee its safety. Vigilance is key.
Look for reviews
Seeking reviews is a valuable practice in evaluating the credibility of a business page on social media. The absence of reviews is a clear indication that the page is likely fake. Therefore, it is recommended to check the reviews section on the Facebook page and perform a quick Google search for “[brand name] reviews.”
Check with the company directly
When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If uncertainty persists, contacting the brand directly through their official channels is a reliable way to confirm the legitimacy and safety of a deal promoted on social media.
Online shop deals that have been promoted from official channels
In light of the increasing prevalence of online purchase scams on social media, it has become paramount to prioritize deals that are promoted through official channels. Safeguarding oneself from potential scams requires relying on trusted sources, such as subscribing to mailing lists of favorite brands to gain access to exclusive deals. By ensuring that the deals originate from official channels, individuals can significantly reduce their vulnerability to fraudulent activities and make more informed purchasing decisions.