Online Shopping Scams to Watch For

It’s that time of the year again! With it being Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the holidays just around the corner, its important to prepare yourself with the best cybersecurity tips! Keep reading to learn how to make sure your online shopping is safe and secure.

In 2020, the market share of online retail sales in the U.S. was higher than general merchandise sales, including department stores for the first time in history. With so many goods being purchased online, cybercrime is also on the rise with Americans reporting more than $265 million in non-delivery scams. This week, we are sharing 3 online shopping scams to watch for.

Scam 1 – Mystery Shopper

Have you seen online ads asking you to become a mystery shopper? These ads promise you lucrative pay simply for buying items undercover, but some are not legitimate at all.

Once you get in touch with a mystery shopping scam, the scammer may send you a cheque for hundreds of dollars. Then, they’ll instruct you to cash it, take a portion for yourself, and then forward the remaining funds to the employer.

Many online offers exist that ask you to become a mystery shopper.

However, the cheque itself is actually bogus and will eventually bounce. This makes you liable for the money you spent as well as any service fees related to the bounced cheque.

Other iterations of this scam include being asked by scammers to wire money, buy gift cards, and paying for certifications or fees before you can start your mystery shopping job (or any other job).

If something seems too good to be true, it likely is. Always stop and think when you get an offer like this.

Scam 2 – Crowdfunding Campaigns and Charity Scams

The holidays can be a great time to give back. In addition to the more traditional route of giving to a charity or non-profit, crowdfunding has emerged as a popular way for artists, online creators, startup companies, and individuals experiencing hardships to ask the public for financial support.

Some popular crowdfunding websites and platforms you might have heard about include Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo. However, despite these websites having a great reputation, the person responsible for the crowdfunding campaign may not be in it for the right reasons, like this couple in Philadelphia who conspired a fake GoFundMe campaign.

Before you make a donation to a crowdfunding campaign, make sure to do a simple background check on the business or the person’s name using websites such as:

  • Does the company or person actually exist?
  • Have they launched other crowdfunding campaigns?
  • How believable does their story or mission sound?

Unfortunately, are also individuals that establish fraudulent charities or fake websites for legitimate charities. You can use websites such as Guidestar or Charity Navigator to find out whether an organization is the real deal and to make sure you locate the official and secure website link.

Scam 3 – Online Purchases Scams

Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, Kijiji – you likely know about these major websites providing a marketplace for goods and services. But did you know they have high rates of scams where customers have lost money as a result?

These online shopping scams take place in many forms, with the most common one being a scammer listing items for sale, collecting payments for it, and then never shipping the items. Although some websites like eBay and Amazon protect buyers from this, on other websites a refund is never guaranteed.

Other times, the scammer lists fake items for sale. Check out this news story about a woman who purchased a fake second-hand iPhone online.

Now that you know more about these scams, be sure to share this blog with your family and friends so they can be aware too! Want to learn more? Check out some of our other articles below for more information on how to protect yourself.

Quiz – Can You Spot the Phishy Deals?

FixMeTip: avoid risky websites and scams before they happen with McAfee Total Protection. McAfee will provide clear warnings if the website you’re on is too good to be true. And because you’re a FixMeStick customer, you get an exclusive discount. Check it out here!


  1. Anonymous -

    Thank you for the heads up…I have had far too many scammer phone calls lately and will surely beware of online scammers.

  2. Leona Burns -

    Thank you for these tips.
    I have only used online shopping twice, once being connected to amazon and my credit card was compromised requiring me to change my card for a new number.
    The other one was connected with a purchase on line with Walmart and the item was returned and it took six months to get all my money back.
    If I am required to buy through online companies, I look up their phone numbers and call them direct to make my order. No phone number, no order.
    For most part I like to be hands on with my purchase so that I can see the quality and that the items are worth the money being asked for the items.
    I do thank you for your information. It is certainly worthwhile reading.

    • Linda -

      Hi Leona, thanks for reading our blog. Sorry to see that you’ve never had a good experience making online purchases. It definitely looks like it’s best to stick with brick & mortar stores or ordering over the phone in your case.

  3. Jean Pierre Gagne -

    I went to Walmart and purchase the stick and it , lets just say from 1 to 10 its a 1.

    • Linda -

      Hi Jean, I checked your FixMeStick account and it looks like you were able to complete a successful FixMeStick scan a few days ago. If you have any questions about this or if FixMeStick did not perform as expected, feel free to contact us at and we’ll assist you from there!

  4. Linda Ann Case -

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve also had the following Amazon purchasing scam. Email notice: I’ve just bought a computer and if I haven’t received my (several thousand dollar) computer I should call a specified number. Good thing I don’t have an Amazon account and like to make expensive purchases through brick & mortar stores.

    • Linda -

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us, these Amazon email scams seem to be on the rise as well!

    • Linda -

      Hi Dexter, thanks for your interest. Unfortunately, the current version of the FixMeStick cannot be used on Smartphones. We recommend using McAfee to protect your smartphone as an alternative.

    • Linda -

      Hi David, once you use your FixMeStick on a computer, the FixMeStick will register that computer as having taken up a license. There is no way to reverse this so if you have any other questions about it, do contact us at

  5. joan harris -

    Thank you for your informative article. it is always good to be reminded of on going scams especially this time of the year.

  6. Joanne -

    Last spring my husband purchased a leather jacket on Amazon, it had great detail about the quality , and good for riding a motor bike, a pic it was really beautiful. Well the jacket arrived form Mumbai, shipping was 5.00$ and no additional charges giving that alone should’ve raised a red flag because shipping to Canada is way more. We had to pay a 45$ from a shipping company to get the jacket. let me tell you the jacket was so bad not the same as described not the same pic and the paper thin leather was cracking. I returned the jacket alright to the address giving to the US and they simply refused to refund us the extra 45$ for shipping. Amazon is not responsible for extra shipping that i know. I made sure to leave a complete detail on his Amazon page and I reported the store to Amazon as fraudulent. I hope more people do the same, we must report these A-holes who think nothing of scamming others. thank you

    • Linda -

      Thank you for sharing your story with us, Joanne! Hidden shipping charges as well as tax & duty charges can add up especially for international purchases. Hopefully, your story will make more people aware of these charges and think twice when purchasing products online.

  7. Otto -

    Hi Linda,
    use the Fix Me Stick and never had a Problem.
    Help is just a Phone Call away.
    Great Product.

  8. Anonymous -

    WISH.COM should be added to the list. They have no phone number for customer service. My account has been hacked twice. I have emailed them for several weeks awaiting for a reply. The reply comes in a foreign language, even after repeated request to email me back in English. Someone has taken over my email account requesting to change my email address. I sent an email to them not to do it I didn’t request a change of anything. So I went to cancel my account I can’t get into it,. I can only assume the account was changed with all my personal info along with credit card info. do you think I can get any help from WISH.COM NO I CAN’T

    • Linda -

      Thank you for sharing your experience on! It can be tempting to make purchases on ultra-low-cost websites. But do keep in mind the products cost less for a reason. Usually, it might mean the company had to skimp out on other costs, such as paying for support services.

  9. Edna -

    I purchased a patio set from an ad on Facebook and never received the set. The website was taken down and now im waiting on my credit card company to get the money back.

  10. Anonymous -

    OMG To anonymous: I totally forgot to mention !!! My credit card had a 645.$ charged to it last october 2018. I didnt even know about that web site when i spotted the charge, 2 weeks later it was gone that was on my walmart master card.I cancelled the card and will not get another one.

  11. Nicholas Jay Thompson -

    Thanks for your comments FixMeStick Team!! I just need the heads up about online shopping scams!!! But, I have a lot of experience of online shopping in a save websites!

    • Linda -

      Hi Nicholas, thanks for reading our blog. Let us know if you have any other questions about these websites.

  12. Lomer Lauzon -

    Ordered a product on-line from the US after reading 18 pages of information on the product with a list of comments by several
    professional people that spoke highly on the product. I placed an order
    on Sep15,2019.We called them on 1st week in October and was told product was at custom for clearance. It is now November21.
    Tracking number given was not correct. No more buying on line for me in future.

    • Linda -

      Hi Lomer, thank you for sharing your experience on our blog. I hope that you were able to file a dispute with your bank on this charge or contact the manufacturer again so you do not end up paying for an item that was not received.

  13. Nancy S Anderson -

    I purchased a dog bed online for $47.99 through PayPal. My bank took out the payment for it but I have never received the dog bed. It was paid through PayPal and when I contacted them they said it was an active charge and they won’t refund my purchase price. Any ideas I can use to get my money back?

    • Linda -

      Hi Nancy, sorry to see that! Do contact the website where you placed the dog bed order first. If you don’t hear back from them, you’ll have to file a dispute with Paypal. Learn more about your online shopping rights on the FTC website here.

  14. Chet Purdy -

    You seem to have a relationship with McAfee. I have BitDefender. Is that, in your opinion and experience as good as McAfee: worse or better? I am having a problem with AOL. They say one of my programs, perhaps, an antivirus program, does not allow them to fully install the AOL Desktop. I can get on line with most of AOL, but the email section may take minutes or tens of minutes to show. Can you illuminate me with any wisdom about such? I am asking the above because I trust you have a better knowledge about Windows than anyone else. Thanks for any thoughts, wisdom, and whatever you may give me!

    • Linda -

      Hi Chet, thanks for reading our blog! We recommend using an antivirus program along with your FixMeStick. We do have a partnership with McAfee and it is our recommended antivirus program of choice, but we also encourage you to try out different programs to find one that works well for your needs. As for the issue with AOL, it’s best to contact AOL to determine if there is an issue with the software not being able to install properly. It’s also possible that the program could be blocked by antivirus programs, but you would not know for sure until you contact either the manufacturer of the AOL software or the antivirus software.

  15. Adrian Cheong -

    Hi Fix me Stick
    I purchased 2 Fixmesticks from HSN about 16 months ago. I have used one of the Fixmesticks on all three of my computers successfully ( 2 lap tops and a desk top ). Over the past year I have forgotten which one of the Fixmesticks that I have used consistently on my computers. Is there any way of determining which one of the 2 fixmesticks has been used for the 3 computers and which one has not been used or only used once ?
    The instructions state that each Fixmestick can be used on 3 computers so what would happen if I used one Fixmestick on one occasion and the other the next time around ? Would I have used up both sticks in cleaning the same 3 computers ?
    Recently there has been an additional laptop added to this household. I hope I can use one of these sticks for this computer as well.
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Linda -

      Hi Adrian, thanks for reading our blog, I see that one of our support agents has already provided you with the answers to your inquiries. If you did not receive the email reply from our agent, please let me know and I can resend the information to you!

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