Everybody loves getting a good deal and the internet is well known as one of the best places to turn when hunting for a bargain.
Unfortunately the web is also home to a lot of people who are just hoping to take hold of your money and run. It’s very easy to forget that the internet is not forced to conform to the same rules as magazines and shops when it comes to advertising goods or services for sale, a fact the more disreputable dealers will use to their utmost advantage.
Just a few of the common problems you can come across when buying from an unreliable source online are:
- You could lose your money without any way to get it back and with no item (or service) delivered.
- You could have your contact details sold on to people intending to use it for fraud and spam.
- You may actually receive your order, but it could well be fake, poor quality or even something completely different to what you asked for, with no way of returning the item or getting your money back.
However, just because you have to be more careful when shopping online doesn’t mean that you should stop obtaining goods through the internet all-together. All you need to do is spend some time doing a little bit of investigating to make sure the place you are buying from is operating in a professional manner.
Scam Report Sites
In an age where people communicate non-stop it only makes sense that some unhappy consumers would fight back against the scammers by creating sites dedicated to bringing their dark practices out into the light. These can prove to be invaluable tools to people who regularly hunt for bargains online, as such the best ones are well worth spending some time getting to know:
- Scam – This is a forum dedicated to letting people know about the different types of scams being used in both the on and off line worlds. It has a large active user-base who are more than happy to give their opinions on whether or not a deal is legit or not, with countless stories from people who have been scammed in some form or another in the past to search through at your leisure.
- 419eater – Another very active web forum, though this one is dedicated to mostly online scams. Made up of people who like to scam-bait so as to waste scammers time and energy, it can be an invaluable resource when trying to research whether a particular deal is too good to be true.
- ScamBusters – This is a website that is dedicated to providing accurate information about the different types of scams that are going on, also in both the on and offline worlds. They don’t name companies in particular, but they do provide detailed examples of the type of scams going on. ScamBusters believe that profiling the kind of deception taking place is more useful than simply outing companies who can change their names at a moments notice. This can be an extremely useful site when used properly.
Getting Help From Someone That Knows
A really helpful piece of software that not that many people know about is called Aardvark, a special kind of widget that can be added to most instant messenger software (such as Aim,MSN or Gtalk) that connects user’s with people who should be able to provide you with specialist knowledge about the items you are attempting to research. It use’s Facebook in order to achieve this, working as follows:
- Grant Aardvark access to your Facebook account, it will then scan your pages to see what kind of specialist information you can offer to the Aardvark community.
- Tell it which instant messenger service you want to interact with it on.
- Add the Aardvark bot to your friends list so that you can talk to it.
- When you want to do some research send a question to the Aardvark bot via your instant messenger.
- The bot will use the information collected from other users Facebook accounts to put you in contact with someone who will be able to provide you with the information you are looking for.
That is all there is to it. The tool can be a bit hit and miss depending upon what time of day you tend to use it, but nevertheless it can prove to be extremely useful when it does manage to find you the right match.
Make Good Use of Twitter
Twitter is not just a way to follow your favorite celebrities or moan to your friends about how bad the latest episode of your favorite TV show was, it is also represents a wealth of information about what other people have experienced when going about their daily lives. At some point it’s quite likely someone on Twitter has talked about purchasing the same item you currently have under consideration, so all you need to do is try to find those tweets and see what they said about it.
Twitter search will let you scan through everyone’s tweets (not just the people you follow), which means you can use it to find out about conservations taking place in real time all over the globe. A good tip is to add emoticons like 🙂 and 🙁 to they keywords you use when searching via Twitter, that way you’ll often be able to find the tweets that have the most honest positive and negative reviews left by people when they are just talking amongst their friends
Do you use any web tools when shopping online to be safe of spam?