Learn How to Avoid Being A Victim of Scammers During This COVID-19 Pandemic

Answered by: Dr Mohd Ramzdhan Bin Mohd Masdar
Updated on: April 29, 2020

Hello, I am the mother of 3 children. Now, purchasing can be done online and my daughter has just taught me how to use e-wallet applications. I am worried about being scammed as this is on the rise but I also felt that such an approach would make buying easier especially during the current Movement Control Order. What tips can I practice to avoid being scammed by scammers?
Thanks for your question, I am aware that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused many purchasing processes to occur online. Therefore, you should be aware of these changes and know the ins and outs of online shopping methods to avoid being scammed by scammers. Among these, you must ensure that you are buying through the right and reliable sources. To learn more, please read the article below.

Today, online shopping sites like Lazada and Shoppee already stand at par with a large shopping mall. Maybe more. What's more, purchases can be made from the comfort of your own home. No traffic jams. With the current movement control orders, many choose to purchase items from these websites to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. Items such as face masks, handwash, groceries as well as home appliances all are available at the tip of your fingers. However, in the midst of this situation, there are some people who start to take advantage of other people’s desperation in getting their daily necessities. Scammers. 

Therefore, it is important for each individual to ensure that their online purchases are from trusted and reliable sources. Here are some practical tips to prevent you from falling into the pit set up by these scammers.

You are advised to ignore phone calls from numbers that seem strange, especially overseas calls. You may sometimes get a phone call from unknown numbers, claiming that they are from certain vendors or company saying that you have won a competition or any other weird reasons. Please be calm and don’t get trapped by their lies. Sometimes, these scammers can access your personal information when you answer the call, make you accidentally or willingly tell them your personal details such as identification number or bank account. 

Since the movement"s control order to combat the transmission and spread of COVID-19 started, the government has been working on various initiatives to help those affected financially. Among them are the withdrawal of EPF funds, the economic stimulus package and bank moratorium. Taking advantage of this situation, many scammers began to pretend to be government agents, calling or texting the public especially the vulnerable and desperate individuals who lost their income due to MCO, asking for their Identification Number, bank details or Transaction Authorisation Code (TAC). Please don’t get fooled. Be aware that the government already has all your details thus no need to call you for that information. Never disclose your information over the phone.

Technology has allowed us to access everything at our fingertips. Therefore, you should read the guideline from a trusted source on how, when and where to apply, or any procedures related to any government initiatives and use only trusted websites and sellers when buying online. Take note on phone numbers and other details to avoid falling into scammers’ impersonation. For other applications or sales pages, please read reviews and customer feedback. There are many websites that you can access to identify scammers. For example the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), SCAM.MY and Truecaller.

Online shopping websites should have a policy and system that protects customers from fraud, making sure they obtain quality items, not over expiry dates or damage. With this policy or system, customers have the right to return their purchase or get back their money if the item was damaged or wasn’t received as promised. Examples are Lazada Guarantee, Shoppee Guarantee and PayPal Buyer Protection. Some policies only allow the payment to be received by the seller after the customers received the item and were satisfied with it.

Make it into a habit to check your account balance after every time you make a purchase. Make sure what was deducted is the same amount as what you should pay. Please keep proof of purchase such as receipts, conversations on social applications and emails. This is very important in cases where you did not receive the item or received a damaged item. It will be easier to claim your money if you have the evidence. In the event of an unwanted problem, you may submit a complaint to the e-complaint service at the KPDNKK, e-Tribunal Portal, or file a police report.

We are currently in the transmission from physical shopping to the virtual world and this scenario is further fueled by movement controls that have led the public to switch to online purchases. Shop wisely.

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