Here’s How to Spot Fraudulent Customers Online

Much has been said about how consumers can spot scam businesses, but how about the other way around? Here are signs that you may be dealing with fraudulent customers online.

The last holiday season has been joyful and exciting for many people, but for some, it was the exact opposite of merry. Especially for those who fell victim to digital or online fraud during the holidays. 

In fact, it has been discovered that there was a 70% increase in suspected digital holiday shopping fraud in the country during the 2022 holiday season versus same time period in 2021. But take note that digital shopping fraud wasn’t prevalent just during the holidays because the number recorded for the season is just a 2% increase compared to the rest of 2022. It happens all year round, too.

While there are undoubtedly just as many fraudulent businesses online, customers can also be fraudulent. We’ve seen multiple instances of it, such as the time actress Kris Bernal fell victim to a whopping 23 fake Grab Food deliveries

But while detecting fraudulent businesses is one thing—with word of mouth and testimonials shared online—identifying fraudulent customers is just as hard. Not to worry. We list some warning signs to watch out for, which can help you detect them. 

Fake Personal Information

While it is easier to skim through the personal details included in online orders, the very information itself may actually be a sign that you are dealing with a fraudulent customer. Some may opt to use dummy or fake accounts and even enter very fictitious personal information that doesn’t match up.

Catching signs like this will only be possible if you pay attention to the information you’ve been given. Ask for identification, like a valid government ID, and be especially vigilant with first-time buyers. Be patient and cross-check every piece of information included in the order you are processing. Should you find anything that you are unsure of, do not hesitate to ask and verify.

Masquerading as Someone Else

Fraudsters may try to impersonate famous personalities such as politicians, actors, singers, and even influencers. They use this to try to get discounts and freebies by using the status of a celebrity or politician to their advantage. 

To avoid falling victim to impersonators, make sure to double-check if your celebrity customer is really who he or she claims to be. If an order is made to your business’s social media accounts, cross-check the authenticity of the account by looking for the official checkmark on the account. This denotes a verified Facebook or Instagram account.

But beyond impersonating famous personalities, some may even impersonate other people! This goes back to the practice of verifying their information before processing an order. After all, better safe than sorry.

Suspicious Payment and Delivery Arrangements

Fraudulent customers will do their best to either pay only part of the total bill or somehow get things for free. One way they can try to do so is by insisting on very suspicious payment or delivery arrangements. In fact, some may insist on paying a downpayment first and then receiving the order before paying the rest of the amount. Others may even insist on receiving the order first before paying the full amount!

When this happens, stick with the payment and delivery process that you’ve already implemented for your business. Do not be swayed by your customer. Legitimate customers will respect your rules and policies. 

Do not let go of your products until after receiving payment (check with your bank too, as needed!), since you may not even be paid—should you decide to deliver them first. In cases of cash on delivery, instruct the person making the delivery not to hand over your products until payment is received. 

Unusual Quantity of Orders

Let’s say you have a repeat customer and you are relatively familiar with their ordering habits. Suddenly, they have a bulk order that’s out of the ordinary. While there is a possibility that the order is legitimate, there is also a possibility that a scammer might be impersonating your customer. 

Should you find a bulk order suspicious, reach out to the customer and verify if they really made the order. It is recommended that you use other avenues to communicate with the customer. For example, if the order was placed via Instagram and you have the customer’s phone number, send a text message to the customer instead in case the Instagram account has been compromised. 

Key Takeaways

Fraudulent customers will do their best to seem legitimate at first glance. To avoid falling victim to them, due diligence is required on your end. Avoid being too lax and make sure to double-check the information you’re given. 

Learn to also trust your instinct when it comes to customers you deal with online. Should the transaction feel suspicious to you, verify the things you are not sure of. If you feel that a transaction is too high-risk, do not hesitate to just drop it. This applies to transactions that seem “too good to be true.” As they say, it is always better to err on the side of caution.