Online Shopping Frauds and Consumer Protection

Author : Sonu Arvind Chaturvedi


In today’s era of digitalization Online Shopping is getting accepted from City, town to village in India. The trend of Online Shopping is rising rapidly because of its perk of shopping anytime like 24/7 round the clock on a click from anywhere by either sitting calmly on your house couch or while traveling at your ease with Multiple Payment method available along with Cash on Delivery (COD) option.

But nothing comes with all goodies. It has its own setback with respect to Quality, Quantity, and Originality and so on but more than that there is a dark side on Online Shopping that is Online Shopping Frauds.

Out of multiple fraudulent activities broad classification of Online Shopping fraud can be done as:

  1. Bank related financial fraud
  2. Fake site
  3. False products description or misleading advertisement

1. Bank related financial fraud:

Misuse of your Credit Card, Debit Card, Net banking, UPIs (Unified Payments Interface) and Other  E-Wallet  by way of stealing sensitive information such as Account number, Expiry Date on cards and CVV number or UPI Pins depending upon mode of payment you chose to pay. There are even instances of Cloning Credit and Debit Cards and with this tactics fraudster steal your hard earned money from you. It can rightly be also called as Online Theft just like house breakage.

2. Safety hack: How to protect oneself from Bank related Financial Fraud?

If you be alert than you are already 90 percent safe because often seeing lucrative offers we fall prey to such fraud. When one see fake site or dummy mobile application of repute site offering heavy discounts, click on those unauthorised link and make purchase thinking that one have grabbed best deal but instead of that get fooled by risking sensitive information to them and send invitation to fraudsters to execute their plan.

  • Shop from Authorised repute sites only.
  • If you have doubts than choose COD option, If not available, let go the product but not your safety.
  • When using world wide web (www) make sure you are using sites with prefix ‘http’ and while making payment the new window is prefixed with ‘https’ (S stands for security) by ensuring this two things you can stay safe from hackers.
  • Never share sensitive information like your CVV, Expiry date, UPI Pin and so on to anyone and avoid using free public Wi-Fi. (Usually Free things turns out to be trap)

Legal Help: Still if you get trapped, inform you bank immediately about it and get your account and/or card get blocked temporally for safety. And if your bank don’t provide justice then you can complaint about the same to RBI If you

Fake Sites of renowned sites:

While scrolling your Facebook, Instagram and other social networking site we all have come across fake sites knowingly or unknowingly as they show exact replica of original site with mouth-watering offers.
So after ordering from this fake site, possibly two things can happen with you as usually they show advertisement of luxuries branded furniture, clothes and electronic items:

  • Either you will not receive product even after making payment
  • Or else you may receive a product but not the original but First Copy or Damages one.

What will happen after that?

They may run away after making such multiple sales and will delete that fake website and make new one and repeat the same.

Safety hack: How to protect oneself from Fake Sites?

Once again make sure you are using secured site and not getting prey for lucrative offers.

  • Check Domain name carefully. For instance is official site hence fake site may write name as ‘’ that’s danger alarm so stop right there.
  • Check Poor Spellings and Grammar since Renowned Site don’t make such error
  • Check Domain Age as during festive season and holiday seasons they start their fake website. For instance you know Amazon came in India since 2013 and if domain age of fake site shows it’s incorporated recently than push yourself back.
  • Don’t click on links popping up on social networking sites
  • Download or use apps from authorized sources or Play Store only.
  • Don’t believe on advertisement showing product worth Rs. Two Lakh for Forty Thousand Rupees. (For instance)
  • When making online payments, only pay for items using a secure payment service and look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol, or a payment provider such as Paytm and Amazon Pay.
  • Check Reviews before purchasing (Wherever possible)

Legal Help – Even Consumer Protection Act, 2019 which came into force from Twentieth day of July,2020 expends its scope by covering online shopping’s consumer too in definition and hence one can go there or as mentioned above can complaint to Cyber Crime sell or Lodge a complaint on following two website:

False products description or misleading advertisement:

Under Consumer Protection Act, 2019, False Description of Product covers under definition of Deceptive Description which states that, during sale if false feature or benefits are conveyed to consumer which are not true are punishable offence. False and misleading claims amounts to fraud. It also include false Guarantee or Warranty of products

  • Safety hack: How to protect oneself False or misleading product description or advertisement?

One shall abide by all measure mention on above in #1 and #2 points and apart from that one shall check once on You Tube and other competitor’s products and official announcements of product launch.

  • Physically examine the product after you get delivery and return or ask for refund if it is not as described during shopping from online portal.
  • Check Official promotional launch’s claim.
  • Legal Help – For False and misleading product description one shall talk to seller first if he provide resolution or else complaint in Consumer Court accordingly in District Forum, Sate Commission or National commission under the provision of act.

Online Frauds and new enhanced consumer law:

What laws in India govern e-commerce?

E – Commerce cover Protection and punishments for doing Online Scams and following are the enacted laws which will help you in need.

  • Consumer Protection Act, 2019 ( w.e.f 20th July, 2020)
  • Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 ( w.e.f 27th October, 2009)
  • Other Policies and regulations laid down by regulatory bodies, inter alia like Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Cyber Crime Laws, and Consumer Protection laws and so on.

Who is E – Commerce Consumer?

Any person purchasing or subscribing any Product or Service from Online Portal or Applications after paying part or full payment or promise to pay later on for desired service is e – commerce consumer entitled to get justice in case of Online Shopping frauds.
Company providing online portal or application for online shopping of each and every products and/or services are known as E-Commerce Company.

Note – To be consumer under E – Commerce one need to need to pay only online even COD (Cash on Delivery) payment mode will be eligible to make such person qualified to be Consumer.

NCH Help line Number and National and International Online Frauds:
On Eleventh day of December, 2020 Shri Piyush Goyal – Minister of Commerce and Industry, announced in Lok Sabha that over 6000 (Approx.) cases are filed against E-commerce sites have been filed on Nation Consumer Helpline (NCH) – A Toll free Number for Consumer to lodge a complaint against online Shopping frauds. He didn’t showed bifurcation of cases registered but he highlighted that there is rise of 575% in number on online shopping related frauds in a span of last four year i.e from period of 2016 to 2019.

As on August 2016,  has been developed to provide a platform to consumers to register their complaints on a click sitting at home or else one always have three tire quasi-judicial consumer forum for entering complaints and providing solutions. Apart from that one have support of Information Technology Act as well as Cyber Crime Laws, Income Tax Act, Foreign Exchange Management Act, Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2007, Companies Act, 2013 and laws related to Goods and Services Tax apart from the Consumer Protection Act, 1986; Directly or Indirectly this all law have some provisions with respect frauds at National and International Level.

Check this out before lodging Complaints:

  • Preserve copy of Bill (electronic or physical copy), Warrantee or Guarantee card.
  • To register a complaint with NCH you can call on 1800-11-4000 or 14404, you can also send SMS on 8130009809. Besides that facility to file complaints online either on NCH website or APP is also available.
  • You should fit in definition of consumer and consideration or part of confederation shall be paid for availing service or purchasing products or promise to make payment is necessary before filing complaint
  • One cannot file case after limitation period of Two Years getting exhausted hence one shall file complaint within a reasonable timeframe.

Sum it up:

Along with whooping rise in online fraud let us see some case laws where people got fooled by renowned sites like Flipkart (Since 2008) and Amazon (Since 2013):

This is a story of Tabrej Mehaboob Nagrali, 26 year old software engineer from Mumbai, ordered the iPhone 8 for Rs. 55,000 and paid the full amount from flipkart’s official website but in turns he received detergent in the box.
He filed a complaint on twenty Second day of January, 2018 in nearest Police station and on that Flipkart stated that they are aware of this circumstance and will look into it shortly and they provided him iPhone which he ordered as a resolution.
This was not the first instance of case whereby people were receiving Brics, Soap Bar or Detergents in Boxes but what to learn from this case?

  • Benefit of ordering from renowned original website increase chances of speedy redressal from seller’s or ecommerce partner end itself
  • Vigilant Customer filing case at earliest get justice in case of frauds
  • Try to immediately unwrap the product received online possibly in front of Delivery executive.

In another case in consumer court in the year 2016 where E-commerce site Snapdeal was slaps fine of rupees Ten Thousand for not delivering something else instead of phone to a customer. And 2 techies of Flipkart in the year 2018 got arrested after investigation fone by Flipkart for changing actual products to something else and stealing the original products. Hence this tell not only ecommerce website but sometime warehouse staff or delivery boy too can commit an offence.

Hence on shall always follow all Safety hacks instructions mentioned in this article and one shall not fall prey by clicking on suspicious links, Phone Call and SMS and one shall always protect their financial data and shall use Strong Password using unique Alphanumeric and symbolic character and one shall not note down but memorize those for safety.

“You don’t live to Buy, You Buy to Live.” Hence stay safe and alert.