Everyone can encounter frauds online, but everyone can also learn to avoid them. It is increasingly difficult to identify frauds in social media, and it is not always possible to check the reliability of online shops when, for example, an attractive offer grabs the customer’s attention. This week, the “Bring fraudsters under control!” project, coordinated by the Consumers’ Union of Finland, campaigned together with its partners for the prevention of online frauds.
As frauds cannot be completely prevented, the best way to protect consumers is to increase their knowledge and skills. Being online is safe as long as you know what you are doing. Everyone can learn to avoid frauds and buy safely from domestic and foreign online shops.
In the past, consumers had an easy time to detect online frauds on the basis of poorly made websites or incomplete information given on products. As frauds become more sophisticated and network usage more mobile-based, consumers will encounter new kinds of problems. On a mobile device, websites often appear smaller than on a desktop or a laptop, and information is not as easily visible. Many fraudsters also try to direct the consumer’s attention to a wrong place, in which case the victim does not realise that they have ended up on a fraudster's website.
Also, online fraudsters often advertise their websites on social media channels, making frauds easily confused with genuine advertisements and products advertised by influencers. Shopping on social media and mobile applications has often been made so easy that the customer forgets to check the reliability of a site, for example.
Five tips for safer online shopping
- Stop: Fraudsters put pressure on consumers by citing haste and presenting offers that are simply too good to be true.
- Check out: Does the URL contain an "s" (https://) and an intact padlock icon in front of it?
- Find out: Can you find the company's contact information in the online store? Have the people that you know heard about the store? Can you find people on the internet with good experiences of the website?
- Read: Does the website clearly state what other charges, such as duties and taxes, are associated with the purchase in addition to the price?
- Ensure: Are the delivery time and the terms of ordering clearly stated?
Online shopping and social media is part of today’s life. However, a knowledgeable consumer is careful and knows how to avoid frauds. For more information on identifying frauds, visit www.huijausinfo.fi (in Finnish).
The following partners joined us in the campaign:
The Consumers’ Union of Finland
European Consumer Centre
Finnish Commerce Federation
Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority
The National Cyber Security Centre Finland (The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom)
Victim Support Finland
Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes)