About 25 people report every hour that they have been victims of online scams in Spain. Frauds grow year after year along with the unstoppable increase in commerce over the Internet: one in four purchases is already done this way. And at the same time the hoaxes are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to detect.
“We can all fall for a scam, many times because we make a quick purchase without paying much attention,” says Jordi Serra, professor of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications at the UOC. Other times, because they are not familiar with the process. It was the case of Alberto Hernando, who had never bought online until last April, since he confesses to being a defender of local commerce. “But there are products that cannot be found in physical stores and you must resort to the web,” explains this 59-year-old teacher. He entered a page of a sports brand, “the first that appeared when you put the name in Google”, bought and paid. It was a fraud. “Then they told me: ‘But didn’t you see that the logo was imperfect? Didn’t you read opinions?’”. These are some clues that will help us avoid scams.
Signs of fraudulent websites
suspicious of bargains. They are usually a hook for the user to buy without looking too much.
Check opinions of other users who have made an order in that online store.
Check the traffic that page has had. “If it is low, it could be a sign of a scam, since most ‘online’ stores add up to many movements,” says Álvaro Núñez, a computer scientist and security expert at the Smart firm. Tools like Similar Web allow us to know the number of visits and the country of origin of the page to get an idea of where we are buying.
Check the ‘HTTPS’ certificate. This certificate promotes secure transactions in which the data is protected and prevents information from being leaked. Virtually all web pages are already ‘HTTPS’. If it’s just ‘HTTP’ it should put the consumer on alert.
Look at the web design and on the domain creation date. Fraudulent e-commerces are poorly built and unattractive websites because they have been designed quickly. Your domain is newly created since they tend to change it frequently to deceive the buyer. A hint: if the drawing of the logo is imperfect or has clear defects, be suspicious.
Check the payment methods allowed. Be wary if they only accept transfers to deposits or use Western Union. They can be a sign of fraud, since they cannot be traced. It is advisable to use payment systems such as Paypal.
That the physical or legal person does not appear that is behind each online store is an indication that we are dealing with a fraudulent website. We must read the conditions and policies of the ‘fine print’ and that they give us data on the reliability of the website.
The scam on Wallapop or Vinted
The Internet User Security Office has warned of this method of fraud in application stores such as Wallapop or Vinted. The cybercriminal shows interest in buying a product and, once the contact is made, encourages the victim to continue the communication outside the platform. “We must never trust people who ask us for our credit card to make a subscription or make a bizum instead of using the usual Wallapop or Vinted channels,” warns Jordi Serra. In addition, there will be no record of the sale or purchase.
The Bizum payment method is already being used by cybercriminals to commit scams. This type of fraud does not respond to a security flaw in the application, but to a user error. The scammer sends us a request for money, but, by mistake or being hasty, we believe that we are receiving money and we approve a reverse Bizum (a sending request).
Beware of QR codes
Cybercriminals use these codes to try to get us to enter web pages controlled by them. “They place QR codes in restaurants, at the entrance of banks, on parking meters…”, points out the specialist. The solution? In some mobiles we can configure the camera to show us the web address that it is reading. And, in this way, check if the page is real.
It consists of sending emails and whatsapps that impersonate the identity of banks, companies or public bodies and request personal and banking information from the user. Advice: a bank or an institution will never ask us for personal data, passwords or accounts on the Internet.
of the Spanish population aged 14 to 74
purchased goods or services over the Internet in 2022. That year, cybercrimes increased by 72%, and nine out of ten of them were online purchase scams.
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