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Christmas season is always a perfect excuse to shop. Unfortunately, going to the malls or bazaars can be exhausting - and don't even get us started with traffic. As an alternative, many Filipinos opted for online shopping. It is easy, convenient, less hassle, and more importantly, you don't have to brave EDSA just to buy gifts. 

Still, be careful. Illegal online activities are rampant these days. Many people are taking advantage of online shoppers because it would be easier for them to get away. 

Thankfully, you can protect yourself from being a victim of online shopping scams. Here's what you can do:

1. Know the signs of online scam. 

An online scammer pretends to sell a legitimate product by using stolen photos or pretending to be an authorized reseller or distributor. There are also those who are so good in convincing people to buy a product but in reality, it doesn't exist. 

Before you place your order online, you need to know what the signs of online scam are. This includes: 

  • Offering incredibly low prices
  • Lack of details and pictures about a product
  • Product features and benefits are too good to be true
  • No contact details on social media accounts or website
  • Answers are inconsistent when you ask about the product
  • Return and refund policies are vague
  • Comes up with tons of excuses in case there is delay in shipment of order
  • Seller asks for further personal information aside from the usual name, address, and contact number

In case you noticed any of these signs, do not push through with the transaction. 

2. Shopping website is not secure. 

This is important. A secured website (starts with https:// and has a padlock sign) means it has security features to ensure that the information you shared about you is protected.

If you noticed that the website is not secure, then think twice before you share information, especially your credit card details or Paypal account. You might be compromising your personal details because the website is not secure - and you don't want that to happen. 

3. Read reviews about the seller. 

It is easy to sell on social media these days. It is free to post and all you need is a picture and you're good to go. Because of this convenience, it is easier also for some people to deceive others. 

Thankfully, there are reviews and comments section that you must read because it will tell you whether this particular seller is worth it or not. Take time to go through it because it will help you gauge whether or not this seller sells quality products, delivers on time, and more importantly, respectful to customers. 

This leads us to our next point. 

4. Seller must be willing to answer questions. 

One of the signs that will tell you a seller is legit is when it can capably answer your questions and concerns. 

By default, a seller must know its product and every tiny detail about it. If it cannot answer your questions, or is inconsistent with her answers, or gives generalized answers, then you need to think. There is a chance that this seller is not a legitimate one and you don't want to waste your time on her. 

5. Consider meetup before you pay. 

This is important, especially if you will buy high-value items or equipment. As much as possible, you want to see and inspect the product first before you hand over your money. This will also give you an opportunity to check whether or not the product is real. 

This wouldn't be an issue if the seller is legitimate. Plus, it shows that the seller is confident about the product he is selling. In case he refuses, then think again. There is a chance that the product is non-existent and the purpose of the seller is simply to extort money from shoppers like you.  

The bottom line is be vigilant and extra careful when transacting online. It is easy to deceive people simply because they are hiding behind keyboards. Remember these things to avoid falling into the scammers' pit. 

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