Stay up to date on the latest community and bank news below

8 Ways to Avoid Online Payment Scams

8 Ways to Avoid Online Payment Scams

Friday, March 17, 2023/Categories: Community News, Saving & Planning

Online payments are tricky, especially if you're making a big purchase or selling something valuable. If you're transferring money to somebody, ensure they are who they say they are. Online payment scams happen more than people think, and you don't want to be their next victim. By taking preventive measures, you can save yourself the hassle and cost of dealing with these scammers.

Always use a credit card.
Your security is a top priority for most credit card companies, as they want to keep your business. You'll get a much faster and more decisive resolution if you notice something wrong with an online charge and contact the company that issued your card. Most banks have decent fraud protection, but their policies are not as consumer-friendly as big credit card issuers like Amex, Visa, or MasterCard, and it could take longer to resolve your case. Debit cards offer less robust protections than bank-issued credit cards–it’s best to avoid them for e-commerce purchases.

Know Where You Shop
Be smart about where you shop online. If you stumble across a website selling merchandise that's significantly cheaper than anything else out there, think twice before buying from it. This can be a sign of sketchy origins–and often you won't discover that until after you've already parted with your cash and waited weeks for whatever was ordered to arrive (if it does at all).

Scammers sometimes use well-known logos or copy text from other websites to trick people into thinking they're ordering from established businesses when they aren't. One key that a website might not be legit is if it lacks contact information. If you're concerned, contact the business and wait until you hear back from them before placing an order. 

Know who you're dealing with.
Before you give anyone money, do some digging. If it's a person, check out their social media, if they have one. See if the things they've posted match what they're telling you. If it's a company, look at what social media says about them, and search for user reviews of their products and services. Also, check out sites like the Better Business Bureau. You can also do some research on the domain name to see who owns it.

If it's a charity asking for your donation, learn as much as possible about its mission statement and the work they do before giving them any money. The American Institute of Philanthropy offers helpful information on how to check out charities before donating to them.

Check out the site's security safeguards.
To protect yourself against online scams, look for the HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) prefix in front of the domain name in your browser. It means all payments will be encrypted. If there is no "S," and it says HTTP instead, it won't be encrypted. A padlock symbol is also a good sign. If you see this, it means your credit card information is encrypted and protected from hackers. You should also ensure the site has an easy-to-find privacy policy. That way, you can make sure they're not selling your credit card info to third parties.

Don't click on links from strangers.
You may have heard horror stories about people lured into phony online schemes. And most people have had a friend or family member get swindled out of their hard-earned money. But you shouldn't let these things happen to you. There are many ways to avoid these scams and a few things you can do to help prevent them from happening in the first place.

First, don't click on links from strangers. Some thieves will send messages pretending to be a company representative or other trusted entity that they want your details. The message says if you don't provide this information immediately, an account will be closed, or someone will be arrested. The message varies.

So, what do these crooks want? They want your personal information so they can steal your identity and use it in their fraudulent activities. Never click on a link in an email. If it appears to come from a legitimate site, go directly to the site via a trusted link or by searching for them on Google. You could also contact the person or company directly by phone.

When signing up for anything online, especially when using your credit card, make sure you have the latest version of your internet browser. Leading browsers, like Microsoft Edge, will let you see if anything has changed, and which websites are different from their normal look and feel (you may also see this as browser bar icons).

Don't fall for a spoofed email address.
One thing to look out for is a spoofed email address. A spoofed email appears to be from a legitimate source but is part of a scam. You may think you're receiving a message from your bank, but really, it's an imposter looking to get hold of your personal information or money.

Crooks disguise their messages by making their emails look like they come from trusted sources. However, if you look closely at the sender's address, it should be easy to spot that it's not authentic. A genuine message will contain the company name in the sender's email address (e.g., Any other variation of this should make you suspicious.

Check with the company directly if you're uncertain whether an email is legitimate or not--and never click on links in suspicious emails! If you think you may be the victim of a phishing email, you can contact Andover Bank.

Never respond to an email about your account status.
Don't respond to emails regarding the status of your account or warning you of suspicious activities. The only way to verify the legitimacy of such claims is by directly visiting the service provider's website. That way, you can avoid falling victim to phishing scams.

If an email looks suspicious, check the sender's email address carefully: even a single character being odd can indicate a fraudulent message. Don't click on any links or attachments in these emails--even if they look legitimate. After all, hackers will use whatever tricks they can to make it seem like their scam is legit and fool unsuspecting victims into giving them personal information and money.

If you receive an email that looks like it came from your bank or online payment provider but still seems suspicious, report it to the company through their official website without clicking on anything in the email itself first.

Use a Password Manager
One of the best ways to avoid online payment scams is by using a password manager. Password managers generate and store long, random passwords for all your accounts. You only have to remember one master password, which protects access to everything else. Some password managers can even replace weak passwords automatically with strong ones.

The Bottom Line 
Online payment scams are easy to fall for, but there are some steps you can take to ensure you don't fall victim.

At the end of the day, there's no surefire way to avoid falling victim to a scam. Scammers are smart and will do their best to trick you. The best thing you can do is keep your wits about you when you're online and never assume anything.

If someone asks you for money, whether it's over email or on a dating site, think twice before sending it. Be especially wary if they claim to be located in another country or working overseas because that gives them more excuses not to meet up face-to-face with you.

If they start asking for personal information, like your social security number or bank account information, cut off contact immediately.

If an online offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is! If something seems fishy about an offer and makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, trust your gut and avoid it at all costs.

Never wire money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram because they're more likely to be scams. Scammers try to get people to use these services because they know the money can't be tracked once you send it.

Most importantly: Never click on links from strangers. These links could download malware onto your computer without your knowledge, and create a backdoor for scammers into your life.