In today’s age ordering items online can be done with just a few simple clicks. However, while convenient, this method comes with a number of pitfalls and many find themselves falling prey to online scams. Despite the growing popularity of online marketplaces there is no substitute for talking to a seller face to face. Continue reading for an explanation of the most popular scams and how you can avoid falling victim.

For instance, one popular scam involves sellers who deliver empty boxes in place of the actual products. This is often the case when it comes to games consoles, computers and other electronics. Usually sellers will list these products far below retail value in the hopes that customers will buy these products on impulse. Unfortunately many sellers get away with this by stating only the box is for sale within the description. The importance of inspecting products before purchasing cannot be stressed enough, however, without being able to physically inspect the package in person many shoppers find themselves falling for this simple scam.

Counterfeit goods are another possible risk when buying online products. For instance, some sellers offer ‘genuine’ brand goods for a fraction of the price. This can be anything from smartphones to laptops. Instead of sending you the authentic product they will often send cheap, low quality counterparts. Remember, if an online deal looks too good to be true, it usually is. When shopping locally you can be rest assured that the products will come from reputable, trusted manufacturers.

Payment is another issue that crops up when buying products online. For instance, eBay is only able to protect buyers when the transaction is made through the site itself. Many online scammers attempt to ask for money orders, cheques, and even gift cards. Once you’ve made the sale the scammer can easily delete their accounts leaving you without the money or the item. Unfortunately in many cases eBay will not be able to reimburse the seller as the transaction took place outside of the site itself. When shopping in person you can collect the product on the same day and the store will only ask for secure forms of payment.

Last but not least, many sellers will deliberately post the product with an incorrect name. Buyers often unknowingly return the item to the nearest postal office assuming that the package was intended for someone else. When shopping on online stores such as eBay, the buyer will be exempt from their money back guarantee once the package is returned. This effectively means that you’ll be unable to get the package or your money back. If that wasn’t bad enough, you’ll be unable to leave any negative feedback on the buyer’s page as it will be marked as a resolved dispute.

In the end, the most effective way to avoid online scams is to shop locally. Any issues can be raised immediately and a team of experts will be able to provide you with the support that you need—this especially important when purchasing computers and other electronics. While it may be tempting to order items online there is no substitute for the personal interaction and assistance you receive when supporting your local business.