The number of online shopping scams has been skyrocketing since more and more Hongkongers are now turning to online stores or second-hand goods trading platforms. To ensure citizens can avoid falling victim to scams, here are some tips by the Consumer Council.
The tips came as the council cited figures released by police that the number of online shopping scams jumped from 2,187 in 2018 to 8,135 in 2022.
First off, consumers can do a background check on the stores they are buying from, including when the stores first join the social media platforms and if the stores keep changing names on those platforms.
Consumers should also stay alert when they find a store claiming to be a local shop but has an administrator located overseas.
The council also warned consumers of red flags like if the reviews and replies are all positive and in foreign languages, hinting that those positive reviews could be bought by the shop to boost business.
Consumers are reminded that using the FPS system for payment doesn’t necessarily guarantee security as some other overseas identity documents can also be used to register for the system apart from Hong Kong Identity Cards.
Sellers should always check their available balance, instead of the ledger balance, in their bank account to ensure they have been paid before shipping the goods to buyers. This can effectively prevent sellers from being cheated by buyers using a blank cheque or a fake deposit slip.
The watchdog also encouraged consumers to enter details such as the shop’s name, phone numbers, bank account, into police’s Scameter on CyberDefender.hk before finalizing payment to assess the risks.
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