When using our digital devices, it’s highly likely that we will need a few essential services to either max out the performance of our devices or to improve our overall user experience. These types of services range from ad blockers to virtual private networks (VPNs) to cloud services, etc. Usually, the way we pay for these services is through online digital payments because these services are often offered and delivered entirely remotely.
In this article, we are going to discuss some of the red flags that you should be knowledgeable of when browsing and paying for services over the internet. This guide will help prevent you from getting scammed or lured into paying for more, such as the case with an AWS Free Tier subscription. By the end of this text, you should hopefully be a little bit more aware and wise with your shopping habits.
- Sketchy-Looking Websites
Online service companies will often have their own websites where they will showcase their services and post additional information about their brand, their company background, and what it is that they do. Legitimate companies will most likely have websites that are beautifully designed and fully functional. Thus, if you observe that the website you are directed to is quite messy or looks unfinished, then you should proceed with caution. Some indicators that a website may be illegitimate include inconsistent design, blank pages, embedded links that lead nowhere, obviously false information, etc.
Finally, if the website is riddled with ads, it may also indicate that the website is illegitimate. Websites of legitimate companies are often paid for as part of their operation or marketing budget. Thus, there’s no need to include ads on their websites for monetization.
- Very Low Prices
It’s also important that you, as the customer, be mindful of your expectations as regards the price of the service that you want to avail. What we mean by this is that you should expect reasonable prices. Very low prices may indicate that the website may be a scam or that the service may include some sort of undesirable catch. Nevertheless, it’s always important to do price matching so as to have a rough idea of how much the services usually go for. Again, if you notice that the price is unusually low, be sure to gather more information about the service as well as the company before you finalize your checkout.
- “Free” Tiers
One of the many strategies that companies employ to try and attract more customers is by offering “free” tiers on the services that they have. Usually, these services come with a catch, such as an inability to save your work, very limited functionality, and distracting ads. In such cases, the customers will be forced to subscribe to the company’s “premium” tiers just so they can have a better customer experience. This is very common in instances where the customer has already familiarized himself/herself with the platform.
There’s also a version of this tactic where the company will offer the customers a “free” service period with the promise of allowing the customer to cancel anytime. In most cases, these types of arrangements will lead the customer to pay more in the long run because the company will intentionally skip notifying the customers when payment is due.
- Collection of Personal and Banking Information
The final advice that we can give you is that you should be careful when providing your personal and banking information. Some companies will use your information to their advantage by way of blackmailing or straight scam. For instance, if you have allowed the company access to your contacts, they might reach out to some of the numbers there to force you to pay. This is a straight-out violation of multiple data privacy laws. In some other cases, the company will make automatic and random charges to your credit card without justifying what the charges are for. This can be really damaging if you are not careful of how and where you upload your sensitive personal data.