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How bargain hunters identify untrustworthy online shops

Online shopping is currently very popular. Bargain days such as Black Friday entice customers with discounts and special offers, thus stimulating online purchases even more. Virtually every well-known online shop is taking part. However, alongside the many great offers there are also fake shops and fraudsters on the Internet. Our tips will help you be prepared.

20 November 2020, text: Leo Wehrli, Natascha Fabian, photo: Depositphotos

Woman sitting on a sofa lifts a red garment out of a box.
Ordering online is “in” and brings pleasure. Read our tips for safe shopping with a mouse click.

The last Friday in November is known as Black Friday. It has become more prevalent in Switzerland too since 2007. In addition to stores like Galaxus, Zalando and Microspot, other smaller providers are also getting in on the act. So it’s easy to lose the overview and fall into a cyber trap. Our five tips will help you to see if an offer is perhaps too good to be true:

1. Website authenticity check

Reviews can be an important indicator of whether or not a shop is trustworthy. Check the reviews of the online shop and look for the Verbandes des Schweizerischen Versandhandels (Swiss Distance Selling Association) or Trusted Shops quality seal. Then visit the quality seal provider's site to check if the shop really is registered with them. Dubious shops sometimes forge their quality seal.

2. Https in the address line?

Look for security features in the website address. Does it have a padlock symbol or start with https:// (not http://)? If there is no “s”, it means there is no data encryption. This means that all data you send will be sent unencrypted. It is then easier to capture or intercept the data. Our easy tip: S stands for security.

3. Google the returns policy

We don’t like reading them, but the General Terms and Conditions are still important. These will tell you whether you have the right to return or exchange an item, whether there is any warranty cover and the level of liability accepted by the online shop. Don't spend ages looking, though: the easiest way is to enter the name of the shop and the relevant term (e.g. returns policy) into Google. Publisher’s details should also always be visible.

4. Choose a secure payment method

Choose a secure payment method such as payment on invoice, a credit card or a payment service such as PayPal or Twint. If a shop only offers prepayment or immediate transfer as an option, something is probably fishy. 

5. Keep a paper record as evidence

Keep everything related to your online purchase, then you can use this as proof if there are any problems with the order. If you notice, for example, that you have transferred money to a dubious shop, you can contact your bank and stop the payment or demand a reimbursement. Receipts, confirmations and screenshots are then proof.

Good to know 

Cyber fraudsters are not only after your money. There are also often cases of identity theft, cyber mobbing or data theft. For example, you send e-mails in your name to your contact and cause a loss for your friends. Helvetia offers cyber protection as an add-on to household insurance or to liability insurance.

But the dangers are not only on the Internet. Parcels are frequently stolen from in front of people’s front doors. Household contents insurance protects you against this type of theft. Important: A deductible is often agreed in the policy. If the deductible is more than the value of the parcel, you will have to bear the costs yourself. It is therefore worthwhile checking the deductible in your household contents policy and adjusting it if necessary.

Cyber insurance

Your protection against dangers from Internet: cyber insurance can be included as a supplementary component in household contents insurance.