What to do when you’re scammed online
With all the benefits and conveniences of online transactions comes its equal risks as well. Since we cannot see the person we are transacting with, some people might take advantage of it and run a scam. If you fell victim to such, here are the things you can do when you’re scammed online.
Here is a recap of the common online scams in the Philippines.
• Online shopping scams – instances of fake ads that lead to fake websites that take your bank account details.
• Check overpayment scam – this kind of scam is for sellers who receive a check that exceeds the agreed price. When agreed, the scammer would then ask for a refund stating whatever reason they have, hoping the seller wouldn’t notice that the check has bounced.
• Bogus sellers – Scammers that are frequent in online stores. These kinds of scams usually involve poor or faulty items that are given to the buyer. For extreme cases, these kinds of scams have people drop out of the phase of the planet, never to be contacted again.
• Facebook Messenger scams – Private messages that ‘reward’ you with a prize if you click on the link.
• Phishing – This method obtains sensitive information by planting malware in websites, emails, and other programs.
• Email spoofing – These scams are forged email addresses posing as famous people or big companies asking for your private details.
• Job and investment scams – These scams are much more frequent now due to the WFH setup. The scam involves offers of work from home employment or an investment in a certain business. Scammers then promise a job with a certain salary that requires upfront payment, stating that the fees are for a training course, software maintenance, clearance, etc.
• Charity and medical scams – As sad as it may be, some people take advantage of the kindness of people by stating dire situations from their ‘loved’ ones, almost requiring the victim to hand in the cash.
If you have fallen victim to a scam, you can do the following:
Contact your bank. It is much more convenient to connect debit/credit cards to certain online shops for faster transactions. But for the off chance that you do get scammed, immediately contact your bank and see whether or not it has been used. For extreme cases, it is possible to lock or ‘freeze,’ which denies new charges or cash advances made to the card.
Compile records and file a complaint. If you have been scammed, you can organize records, files, images, photos, names, etc., to supplement your complaint so that the website/app can be much more aware of it. If they see multiple records of complaints with the same person, they may be driven to place that person under investigation.
If it is possible, you may file a complaint detailing the website about the scam you experience. It is highly encouraged to be detailed in the statement, mentioning the method of transaction, name of the person/website involved, proof of transaction, time of the transaction, and finally, the amount used. Make sure you have the appropriate documents to submit.
If the scam involved e-wallets, users may consult the appropriate websites. Here is a rundown of how scams/frauds are managed for some e-wallets.
• Gcash – Gcash has this user complaint form that allows the user to voice their situation—for this case, a scam occurrence. Gcash then states that filing the official form requires to be notarized and then sent via ticket.
• PayMaya – Reports can be sent if the user sees unusual activity related to their PayMaya account. That report can be given to the Customer Support team at [email protected] In addition, users can report suspicious activity from another PayMaya user, which can be reached out with the same email or through the PayMaya Cares Facebook page.
• Coins.PH – For Coins.PH, users who have experienced a scam can contact them through the Coins app or their contact form. They also require the user’s email, number subject, description, and the appropriate attachments.
In addition, should the user continue to pursue the case, Coins.PH would urge the user to contact the appropriate authorities. Coins.PH states that they would be willing to help as long as a letter Requesting for Information (RFI) is given.
• PayPal – PayPal states that users may go to the Resolution Center to report the activity if there are unauthorized transactions. Other than transactions, the Resolution Center can be used when an item was not received or to report a potential fraudulent seller.
• Shopee – If you have been scammed in Shopee, you can opt to report the user and the certain product, which is found on the drop-down menu at the top right-hand corner.
• Lazada – For Lazada’s case, a report can be given to the seller and product via the Feedback button. From there, a ‘Report Products and potential scams’ can be select, and users can give a report stating why. Lazada will take it from there and double-check if the person reported or item violates Lazada’s Terms and Conditions.
Getting the proper authorities involved
It actually depends on what kind of scam/fraud has occurred. For investment schemes, it is appropriate to report to the Enforcement and Investor Protection Department of the SEC through their email at [email protected] or through their landline at (02) 8818-6337. This is done when scammers act as salesmen, brokers, dealers, or agents of fraudulent investment schemes because they are criminally liable and can be penalized with a maximum fine of PHP 5 million or 21 years of imprisonment; or both.
In addition, the Department of Finance (DOF) has opened its online channels for netizens to report any posts, advertisements, and messages containing false information. Screenshots should be presented in the report and can be sent at m.me/DOFPH. Moreover, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provides a complaint form that requires a complete name, address, email, narration of facts, demand, and scanned proof of a transaction with a government-issued ID, which can be submitted to [email protected].
Be reminded that it is always better to prevent a problem than to find a solution for it. With that said, here are some tips for you to follow to minimize instances of being the victim of a scam.
Create a strong password and enable 2-factor authentication. If the scammer has access to the websites/apps you personally use, I highly urge you to change to a stronger password. Yes, it is a hassle, but it is a step that must be taken to keep you and your account safe. In addition, go the extra mile if the app/website has 2-factor authentication for that extra layer of security.
Transact with Trusted websites and Sellers. When browsing the internet, you can actually see whether a website is secure or not with the little padlock icon by the search bar. For trusted sellers, it is always good to scout which shop has the most positive reviews. Seeing the item received positively from other people may place you at ease.
Take note of red flags. When discussing red flags, I refer to items with unbelievable low prices, sellers who cannot reply to questions about the item they are selling, or no clear information about refunds or return policies. Sometimes you can feel it in your gut, but consult friends, the community, or another buyer when in doubt.
Take your time. The impulse of buying a new item that is priced low or is advertised to have limited stocks can be tempting, but if you aren’t too sure about it, try to take a step back. When you slow down, you may spot things you couldn’t see before, therefore preventing you from taking risks.
And that wraps it up! Again, I want to emphasize that it is always better to be cautious to prevent scams and frauds from happening to you, me, or any of our loved ones. It’s always frustrating to see our hard-earned cash/items go to someone else who decided to choose the deceptive route—it’s just flat out wrong, but it still happens. So we gotta adapt and learn so that we can keep ourselves safe.
If you have any thoughts to share or report, feel free to write them in the comment section below.
As always, stay safe and healthy!