Learn from an OCN reader: "I knew better. And I still fell for the scam."

'Tis the season of making more purchases and more online purchases. We all need the reminder to be careful. One reader shared her story about falling for a scam. 

The reader had been searching online for a new pair of running shoes. She was intent on finding the best price and was looking for a deal. While scrolling on Facebook, she came across an ad from what she thought was a well-known running shoe company. The ad offered 70% off of several running shoe styles.

The reader searched through availability and even asked her son if he needed a new pair of shoes. She quickly placed a couple of pairs of shoes in the cart and paid. She thought it odd that the only way to pay was via PayPal, but she didn't think much of it.

She knew there was a problem when she received the confirmation. Rather than mentioning the well-known name of the running shoe company, there was only text in another language (undecipherable by the reader).

Thankfully, the reader acted quickly to resolve the fraudulent purchase. Of course, the running shoe company had nothing to do with this scam.

Tips to Safely Shop Online

In hindsight, the reader saw several things she should have done to avoid being tricked into a scam.

  • If the sale seems too good to be true, it probably is. Check the legitimacy of a sale. Rather than just clicking through an ad, you can do a separate and new Google search for the company to locate a legitimate sale.
  • Read through the comments posted on the ad. When there's a scam ad, oftentimes someone has already posted a comment to alert other consumers.
  • When you click on an ad, pay attention to the URL (or web address) of the store to where you're being directed. As the reader retraced her clicks, she found that the URL was similar but not the same web address as the shoe company.
  • If anything feels "off" during the financial transaction, stop what you're doing and do some further research. The reader quickly dismissed only having one option to pay, via PayPal. Large companies will always have options of paying via major credit cards as well.

What to Do If You Suspect You've Been Scammed

  1. Immediately contact your financial institution. Alert the credit card company or payment gateway to report the incident and stop payment. In this case, the reader contacted PayPal. PayPal was great to work with, offering contact options both online and via phone. It still can take several days to resolve the situation as the financial institution needs to investigate. Check back often to be sure your claim is being addressed.
  2. Change your passwords. Any logins and passwords that you used during the transaction can be compromised for future purchases. You may want to consider changing your passwords again in a week.
  3. Continue checking with your credit card company or payment gateway to ensure no further fraudulent activity has been made on your account.
  4. Don't beat yourself up. Scammers work tirelessly finding new ways and using the craziest of times to best deceive you into a purchase. Learn from your experience and be more cautious next time. Share your story with friends and family to help protect them from similar scams.

Do you have your own scam story? Share how you solved it in the comments below.