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Consumers Warned Over Online Scams

14 July 2014 - 12:22 by Simon Crisp

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The internet is a great place to go if you want to get a bargain, with the majority of mainstream sites offering a platform for safe shopping online which will not leave you at risk of being scammed. But a new warning issued by Citizens Advice has pointed out that even popular sites such as eBay and Gumtree can play host to malicious listings that are designed to trick consumers out of their hard-earned cash, according to the Telegraph.

In the first half of the year a tenth of all complaints dealt with by eBay were found to relate to scams, while the issue is even worse on Gumtree, where it was one out of every six problems reported by consumers.

Consumer rights expert Gillian Guy explained that cybercriminals are choosing to use mainstream platforms to advertise the sale of products and services which turn out to be fake, and innocent shoppers only realise once it is too late. Last year they managed to steal ?63.6 million through these online methods, so it is sensible for consumers to arm themselves with the information that can help them avoid such problems.

The first rule of safe shopping online is to only use sites that have a reputation for offering a good level of protection to customers, amongst which both eBay and Gumtree can be included because these scams affect a small minority of their customers.

Secondly, it is important to steer clear of any listing that looks too good to be true, because if a preposterously low price is being proposed for a product or service, it could be a lure to catch out consumers.

Finally, if you do get conned, make sure that you report it to both the site in question and the police, as this can help to crack down on criminal scams.