Skip to content

Protect yourself from online shopping schemes

Alicia Colombo

By Jeremy Rodriguez

When shopping online, it can be tempting to get lost in the sales. However, this can also make one vulnerable to scammers. That is why it is vital to have your wits about you when navigating the world of online shopping.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provided some examples of online shopping scam risks.

  • Fake websites and apps. Scammers may create platforms that look similar to other online shopping platforms or direct you to apps that contain malware, software designed to gain access to information or computer systems. These may trick you into providing personal information or get you to spend money to purchase items and never receive them.
  • Email links. These may come from senders that mimic real companies. Look for suspicious details such as typos or “too-good-to-be-true” offers.
  • Making payments on unsecure sites. Before making a payment online, check to make sure a lock icon along with “https” appears next to the website URL, which illustrates that the site is safe.
  • Using public Wi-Fi to shop or access sensitive information. Using public Wi-Fi — such as in a coffee shop, hotel, or library — does not always provide a secure connection. Using it can potentially expose your banking and other personal information to hackers. Stick to websites with the “https” when in public spaces.
  • Package delivery confirmation scams. This occurs when someone claims to be from the U.S. Postal Service or a major shipping company and says you have a package waiting for delivery. You’ll then be prompted to provide your personal information, which the scammer will collect for their own devious purposes.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provided some tips in November 2023 to protect yourself when shopping online. These tips include:

  • Pay by credit card. If you’re charged multiple times or if you receive an incorrect or damaged item, you can easily dispute the charge.
  • Check out the company. This can include a simple web search of the company’s name along with terms like “scam” or “fraud.”
  • Keep records. Monitor bank statements and order shipment dates. Sellers must ship the item by the promised date or offer you a chance to get your money back.

You can never be too safe from online shopping scams. If a seller hasn’t lived up to their promises, be sure to report them to the FTC at

Reports of financial exploitation and other forms of elder abuse of older Philadelphians can be made 24/7 to Philadelphia Corporation for Aging at 215-765-9040.

If you know an older adult in Philadelphia who may be experiencing financial exploitation, please contact PCA’s Older Adult Protective Services by calling the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040. All calls are confidential.

Jeremy Rodriguez is a freelance journalist, blogger, editor and podcaster.

Categories: Elder Abuse Finances Milestones eNews Technology


You are using an unsupported version of Internet Explorer. To ensure security, performance, and full functionality, please upgrade to an up-to-date browser.