These days, it’s super-easy to pull a consumer fraud on an average Jane and Joe: greenwashing, overcharging, and other clever marketing ploys are all the tricks profit-hungry brands use to max out sales even if their offerings aren’t exactly worth the price tag. Still, the fact that frauds are thriving doesn’t mean you should let yourself be fleeced as an uninformed consumer. To stay on the safe side of the advertising agenda, you should arm yourself with efficient fraud protection tricks and make sure you always get your money’s worth in goods.
1. Do your online research homework
Before you buy anything online, make sure you’ve researched the product and brand carefully. If you’re to place an order from a brand or e-store for the first time, you should run a search using words such as “review,” “scam,” “fraud,” or “complaint” to see if other consumers experienced any problems with the brand concerning delivery, product quality, or deceptive marketing.
2. Double-check every free trial offer
These days, many companies use free trial offers to attract consumers and obtain their personal data. In some cases, the company can even use your personal info to bill you on a monthly basis for the trial fraudulently advertised as free. For this reason, it would be ideal if you could run a thorough background check and read the brand’s cancellation policy before you sign up for the allegedly free trial.
3. Make no upfront payments lightly
Some companies make generous promises when looking to fleece consumers, and you’ll need to be extra careful in case a brand asks for an advance payment. The same is true of unanticipated prizes you can collect only after you’ve paid a certain fee: in most cases, such promises end in no deliveries, just unwarranted costs incurred through gullibility.
4. Look into your payment options
Credit cards have fraud protection, but if you’re using another payment method when shopping online, you should be extra careful. If you’re about to send cash using MoneyGram or Western Union, bear in mind you won’t receive a refund in case of advertising fraud. The same is true of certain reloadable cards such as Reloadit or MoneyPak: no credible company will ask for these if you’re using another, more mainstream payment method.
5. Check caller ID like a pro-consumer
If you receive a call from a number you don’t have on your contact list, you shouldn’t believe the caller’s every word – or their ID, for that matter. Many telescammers use a fake IDs, so if they ask you for your personal information or request a payment for a purpose you’re not familiar with, hang up. If you’re not sure if the caller’s telling the truth, you can find the company’s number online and use it to verify the official’s ID and request.
6. Get your money’s worth of goods
If you receive a product that doesn’t correspond to the one you ordered online in either quality or quantity, don’t let scammers get away with your cash unpunished. To make fraudsters pay for their wrongdoing, hire an experienced consumer fraud attorney who’ll take legal steps to ensure sure you’re refunded for damages or otherwise reimbursed for the controversial transaction.
7. Sign up for a free FTC scam alert
If you want to stay on the safest side of online exchange, consider signing up for a free Federal Trade Commission (FTC) scam alert and have the info about the latest fraud cases delivered to your inbox. FTC scam alerts will help you stay ahead of the scammers who’re making headlines for hefty consumer frauds – and besides, it’s always useful to be up-to-date with the tricks 21st-century cons use to outwit consumers.
According to the FTC Annual Consumer Complaint Summary released back in 2016, there’s more to consumer fraud than meets the eye. Not only is a fraud a pretty costly affair for the fleeced consumer, but it’s also a potential cause of other complications such as ID or social security number thefts and compromised the safety of financial, employment, and healthcare records. To prevent potential consumer fraud landing a steep price tag in your lap, stick to the tips listed above and your personal data and finances will always be safe from harm. Good luck!