Scammers have a new way targeting online shoppers

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Here’s how to protect yourself

By Adzim Halim, CEO of Ninja Van Malaysia

A GOOD deal is hard to resist, even for the savviest and most seasoned of online shoppers. One of the risks of shopping online is unwittingly being duped; a minor inconvenience at best, and in the worst case, a let-down and financial loss.

Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, studies have found an increase in online shopping in Malaysia, with half of our adult population buying non-food items during the movement control order (MCO).

Of these online shoppers, 35% only started shopping online after MCO began, translating to a 53% growth in the number of online shoppers since the MCO.

A major online retail site also recorded a 300% increase of sellers on their site since the pandemic and most interestingly, elderly citizens (who were previously hesitant of the risks of online shopping) and the underbanked population have shown a significant interest in online shopping as it continues to be their only means of purchase during the pandemic.

Despite the rise in e-commerce growth, studies continue to show that Cash-On-Delivery (COD), a system of paying for goods when they are delivered, is still a preferred payment method amongst consumers, especially those who are sceptical of online transactions as well as those who do not own a credit card. As for businesses, COD has helped make the overall consumer journey a smooth one. In addition to attracting a much wider customer base, COD also helps to build trust from customers who prefer receiving the product first.

However, with the rise of e-commerce and ease of COD come scammers who are getting creative to take advantage of the situation, often by posing as legitimate online sellers on their fake websites, placing fake advertisements on social media and in extreme cases, even posing as unauthorised delivery riders who exchange a fake, empty parcel in return for your money.

In recent months, numerous reports of COD scams have made news headlines. Even Polis Di-Raja Malaysia (PDRM) has brought to Twitter their concern over the issue of COD scams urging the public to be vigilant and not fall to the trap of scammers.

With PDRM and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs taking a stand against online fraud and Cash on Delivery (COD) scams, courier industry players also have a responsibility in educating consumers about these scams.

This is why Ninja Van Malaysia is putting in place the necessary mechanisms to combat this issue via a 2-pronged approach: educating the public about COD scams and regularly training our staff so they’re well-equipped with the knowledge and skills required in providing solutions to customers.

Red flags to look out for when receiving COD parcels

To avoid falling for a potential COD scam, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and loved ones:

  1. Always do your homework by reading reviews and only buying from reputable, established sites. For instance, opt for shops that have high ratings, and product listings that are well recommended. However, if a shop or product has amassed a large number of positive reviews within a very short time, it is likely that you’ve come across fraudulent reviews. One way to determine if a product is genuinely highly rated is by reading the actual reviews, verified reviews where possible, and looking beyond the star rating of a product.
  2. The rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If you come across a seller selling a supposedly authentic Rolex for only RM250, it should raise an eyebrow.
  3. Never pay for parcels that you have not purchased. If you’ve made a purchase online and a delivery arrives, always read the information on the parcel to make sure that it is an item you have ordered.
  4. If you are expecting a parcel that requires COD, make sure to inform your family about it so they are aware and alert when the delivery turns up at the doorstep.
  5. If you come across an unexpected COD parcel, always validate with the intended recipient first. If neither party can confirm the authenticity of the delivery, first and foremost, reject the delivery. Then, make sure to contact the relevant courier company and lodge a report.

Working together to tackle COD scams

At Ninja Van Malaysia, we take fraudulent issues very seriously and have strict protocols in place to prevent COD scams from taking place. These steps include but are not limited to pulling back scam orders, refunding all items, and ceasing all partnerships with the culprits.

With the ease and convenience of e-commerce, more people are opting for COD, and customers can also take a more active role in protecting themselves and their loved ones from falling for scams.

As the saying goes “Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much”. Thus, we urge that customers be more cautious and take note of red flags when they’re shopping online. And if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ve experienced a COD scam, make it your civil duty to report so you can prevent a similar COD scam from happening to your neighbours, loved ones and others.

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