In typical online scams, the customer does not receive a product ordered and paid for in advance. The seller in these cases can no longer be contacted. The same pattern can occur in online auctions as well.
It is a good idea to look up basic information about online services before placing an order. Even if fraud or some other threat to data security is not involved, getting answers to the following questions can help avoid extra trouble and unwelcome surprises:
- With whom am I entering into a contract, and how can I contact the company? (Company name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address)
- What does the product include and how much does it cost?
- What are the terms of delivery, and do they mention restrictions or any surprising terms related to the product?
- How and when will the product/service be supplied?
- Is this a one-off order, or am I committing to a standing order?
- How will payment take place, and on what terms?
- How can the order be cancelled or the service discontinued?· What are the warranty and maintenance terms for the product?
- Don't do business with just a post office box or Internet address. Make sure the company also supplies its street address and e-mail contact information.
- If you have doubts about whether a company is trustworthy, do an Internet search for information on discussion boards, for example, about other people's experiences with the company.
- Do not place an order if you have not read, or do not understand, the terms of delivery.
- If the only payment option a company offers is an advance bank transfer for the product, you are taking an especially big risk if the product is not delivered or you cannot contact the company.
- Do not supply your bank account or credit card information unless you are sure that the recipient is trustworthy and that the payment is safe.
- Pay attention to payment security. You can particularly check the encryption of online banks from the lock icon on your browser's address bar and by looking for an online address starting with https://. If there is no lock icon in the address bar, this is not the website of a real online bank. You should be careful because a lock icon or having an address starting with https:// is no guarantee of the reliability or authenticity of a website these days. Communication encryption can also be used to deceive you.
- Check what the company says about use of private information and direct marketing, and think about what information you want to provide about yourself. In general, it is a good idea to provide only the information necessary for the transaction.
- Print and save your order and order confirmation as well as the terms of the transaction. This will be your proof of what has been agreed upon, since websites are easy to change.
Credit card company
If you have paid for a product/service in advance with a credit card and do not receive it despite enquiring after it, you can demand a refund of the payment from your credit card company.
If you want to demand a refund or compensation for a product or service you have purchased, contact the consumer advisor.
Consumer advisory services
Register a complaint with the European Consumer Centre if you purchased a product from another EU country, or from an online store in the EU area, and have a refund or other compensation claim against the seller or service provider.
Complaint to the European Consumer Centre