LHV: Be particularly careful about unfamiliar online shops


As with every year, the last two months of the year, with Black Friday and Christmas, are the most popular time for shopping. At the same time, it is also the busiest time for cyber fraudsters lurking around e-shoppers. That's why you need to take special care now and remember the basics of secure online purchases.

According to Annika Goroško, Head of Retail Banking at LHV, along with the development of e-commerce, fraudsters have been constantly improving their techniques and schemes. “As a shopper, you should remember that scam pages on the internet can look pretty real, be located at a seemingly authentic web address and use plausible Estonian-language advertisements to lure you in,” said Goroško.

For example, some shoppers recently fell victim to such a scam: People noticed a tempting offer on Instagram, clicking on which opened a page of an online store with a genuine appearance, but with a different URL to the original. After selecting the goods at an incredibly good price and paying for them, the victims soon received a message from the courier company that the goods had been shipped. By clicking on the link sent in the message, the victims in turn reached a scam page similar to that of the courier company, where this time people were asked for credit card details for the delivery of goods and customs procedures. No goods arrived, both the online store’s and the courier's page disappeared from the internet, and the victims surrendered money and their card details.

“The general rule is that it doesn't matter if the attractive link reaches you by e-mail, social media page or SMS, you still need to check the background of the service provider before buying or entering data, make sure that the payment is secure and, if in doubt, back out of the deal. Before buying, you should take precautions,” said Goroško.

“If you have any doubts after making a purchase, report it to your bank as soon as possible. This way we can close the card and replace it with a new one,” Goroško explained. By reacting quickly and blocking the card, it is possible to prevent new unwanted transactions on the account.

Examine the background of the merchant

Before making any transactions online, check the background of the merchant.

A warning sign can be displayed if a website is not easily found through a search engine. In case of doubt, you can also run the contact details of the company through the search engine. The features of a proper website include a clear and understandable name, correct use of language, an overview of the company with contact details and, in the case of online stores, of course, a comprehensive list of the terms and conditions and the buyer’s rights. A secure shopping environment is characterised by a padlock icon in the browser bar and the letter “s” (https) at the beginning of the URL. An honest merchant usually adds a number of different payment options to their page.

Be the master of your bankcard

Often, shoppers only begin to suspect fraud when making a payment, when a person with a different name from the online store is indicated as the recipient of the money, possibly, from a completely different country. In case of doubt, you should cancel the transaction, or, if it has already been completed, immediately notify the bank.

We advise keeping your card limits as low as possible so as not to lose an undesirably large amount of money. You can always temporarily increase the limits on the mobile app or in the internet bank for larger purchases.

All LHV bankcards have been connected to the security service for online card transactions. This means that online purchases with LHV bankcards include additional cover against potential card fraud (Read more).

There is no such thing as too good a deal

The internet and social media are actually full of fake offers and advertisements aimed at stealing bank card data. If someone suddenly offers the items of best brands for much cheaper than the others, it should be treated with particular scepticism. Sometimes the goods are even offered free of charge and payment is only requested for “postage”. Most often, scammers rush their victims, giving the impression that the offer will end within a couple of minutes. As a shopper, always take the time to stay the master of your decisions.

Social media channels usually don't do background checks on ad providers or products that are sold. Some social media channels also use badges confirming the authenticity of the merchant, but they too cannot be trusted to the end. Often, a person may not even notice that they have reached a second or third website through a banner.

While at proper merchants you are protected by consumer rights, in the case of fraudsters, you cannot rely on them. You can dispute the transaction if the ordered goods did not arrive or the wrong goods have been sent and the merchant has not refunded the purchase amount when returning them. In order for the bank to be able to help you in the case of a fraudulent transaction, you should provide information about the merchant as well as the purchase made.

However, during shopping and promotional campaign periods, it is also possible to find good offers from real merchants. So, it is worth remembering the above tips, using them and taking action so that the purchases are made, but the criminals remain without prey. Secure online shopping!

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