There are thousands upon thousands of online pharmacies to choose from online making it increasingly more difficult to find an option that you are sure is safe to use both in terms of your health and also your wallet. In this article, we are going to be outlining key steps on how to protect yourself from online pharmacy scams.
Don’t Give Away Your Personal Details
You need to be very careful with your personal details because they can be used by criminals to commit various types of fraud that will ultimately cause financial loss as well as the need to spend a lot of time sorting everything out. Usually, personal information is used to open credit cards or take out loans.
Alternatively, other forms of personal information such as your phone number or email address can be bombarded by spam emails or calls if you sign up to a newsletter on a small site with little traction and online presence then you are risking having your information exploited. It has also been reported in the news that scammers tend to work together and share the contact details of their victims meaning that you will likely be bombarded by spam emails from multiple criminals rather than the original individual that stole your information.
Check If They Are Regulated
In the majority of countries around the world, there are government-approved pharmaceutical regulatory agencies that are either private charities or public companies. These regulatory agencies make sure that all approved pharmacies follow the required regulations that ensure the rights and safety of its customers.
It is common for scam online drugstores on the internet to simply add the logo of reputable regulatory agencies to try and convince users that they are approved regulated members when that is not actually the reality. Therefore you should not simply trust what you see but you should verify this information by going on the official websites of those agencies. On many of those websites, there will also be the ability to post online pharmacy reviews to get a better idea of the number of customer complaints connected to the pharmaceutical website that you are investigating before using.
Furthermore, it is good to know, that most of the official badges from regulatory bodies will include a hyperlink that will take you to the official regulatory site when clicked on. If it is just an image then it is a much higher chance that it is not legit.
Avoid High-Risk Countries
Most of the online scam websites are located in a small number of countries, this is due to a variety of factors such as lack of interest in such illegal activities from the native law enforcement agencies and higher privacy allowing for the individuals involved to stay under the radar.
Pharmacy websites that are not involved in legal activities tend to present themselves as being located in countries with high regulation such as the United States and Canada while actually being based in other countries.
A good way to verify the real base of operation of the drugstore website in question is to search the website on publicly available website registries such as WhoIs.com that list the names of the individuals and companies behind the website as well as where they happen to be based.
Search for Related Reviews
Naturally, all authoritative e-commerce sites that have been around for a long time will have a large number of testimonials online on third-party platforms such as TrustPilot, Reviews.io, and Feefo. Such platforms regulate the reviews that are posted on their sites to make sure that they are real posts from real customers and there is not any sort of manipulation going on.
You should not pay any attention to online pharmacy reviews that are located on an online store as such reviews can be created and manipulated by the owners of the drugstore site for their own benefit. Checking out testimonials is also important as a lot of fraudulent online stores claim that they have been online for a very long time but by checking the number of reviews as well as when they have been created you can find out if such claims actually happen to be true.
Use Safe Payment Methods
The way that you pay online is arguably one of the most important steps that you need to be aware of and work on in order to make sure that you are protected online. Below we have listed and described the safe and unsafe payment methods that you should be aware of:
- PayPal, since the early 2000s PayPal has been the leading payment method online for millions of people. You can pay using money in your PayPal account or have other payment methods processed. Paypal is ideal for third-party payments online as it protects all of your personal information.
- Bank Transfer, another great way to pay online is using a bank transfer from your banks, it is a great way to pay as it is fairly easy to initiate a refund if there are any issues with your order.
- Credit Card, similar to pay using bank transfers, credit cards are a quick and easy way to pay that offer extra security as it is one of the easiest payment methods to initiate a refund one.
List of Unsafe Payment Methods
Bitcoin & other cryptocurrencies, there is a lot of hype around Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum however they are not good ways to pay online as they value anonymity and it is thus impossible to initiate a refund if you have any problems. The only way to get a refund is if the seller themselves decided to send you money back.
Vouchers, it may sound strange but scammers may ask for you to pay using vouchers from companies such as Amazon, Apple’s iTunes service, and Steam gift cards. This is because gift cards are difficult for law enforcement to track and once they have been redeemed cannot be refunded.
Entering Bank & Credit Card Details in a Basic Form, although we listed bank transfers and credit cards as great ways to pay, it depends on how you use those payment methods. You should use third-party platforms such as PayPal or other financial processing systems to make sure that your payment information is not exposed and exploited by the owners of the online pharmacy sites.
Too Good to Be True Promises
Often you will just need to use your common sense, if something sounds too good to be true than in most cases it likely will be. Over time you will become much better at catching out on the inconsistencies of pharmacy websites that you are using. Common promises that are too good to be true include massive discounts of between 30 and even 90% off on most or all of the products for sale.
Alternatively, you have promises of the customer service being open 24/7 when in reality that is not true, and instead, there is a non-existent customer support team to help you.
Round the World Shipping
Another major thing you should look out for is shipping that does not make any sense, a lot of the unauthentic online stores will promise simple worldwide shipping that has a flat fee no matter where you happen to live in the world. In reality, worldwide shipping is not available for the majority of medication, as every country has its own laws and tariffs on imports that will mean that there cannot be flat worldwide delivery fees.
Does Not Ask for Prescription
One of the biggest giveaways that you are not dealing with an online pharmaceutical site that is safe to use is that they do not want a prescription from you for medication that will usually require a prescription. This is because fraudulent sites are trying to make it as easy as possible for their victims to send them money, so it is not in their interest to ask for a prescription as a lot of people may not have one.
Below we have included a video that you can check out that tells you about the detailed steps that make up the prescription verification process when ordering certain drugs. On pharmacy websites, there will be an in-house online pharmacist that will do all this work and verification.
No Verifiable Physical Address
It is much easier to commit fraud using virtual drugstores than brick and mortar drugstores as you are able to present an air of professionalism much more easily and also the set up is very low cost which is why there are so many scam pharmacies online. Regardless if it’s a physical or online store, it will still require a physical business address in order to receive mail and other forms of correspondence.
If a pharmaceutical platform does not have an address that you can verify with confidence then you should be much more cautious about using this website.
Use Anti-Virus Systems
Viruses and malware is something that you need to pay attention to and prevent, although the majority of operating systems do come with their own in-built operating systems it is rarely good enough as the paid alternatives that are made by specialized security companies. Although it may seem costly, it is better to pay a yearly fee of $30 for example rather than risking having your payment and personal information stolen by blackhat hackers which can cost you thousands of dollars.
In conclusion, there are many online pharmacy scams out there trying to fool you into giving them money for medication that will be dangerous for you to consume if you happen to receive anything at all. In order to stay safe, you should make use of all of the points that we have made in this article including using anti-virus software, checking out the online pharmacy reviews, doing research on the website and their claims, and using only payment methods that are safe.