Nov 24, 2022.

Putting too much trust in the internet and e-mails can have negative consequences. We explain the dangers of internet fraud and how to protect yourself against attempted fraud when both buying and selling products and services.


What are the most common forms of internet fraud?

Fraudulent practices on the internet are wide ranging. Such cybercrime includes credit card misuse, phishing, where perpetrators spy on your personal information and access authorisations, and extortion, where criminals use malware to disable a server or encrypt data and demand money in return for restoring use or access.


A huge number of sales and purchases are conducted online. Are scams a frequent occurrence?

Indeed they are – on the vendors’ side. Time and again users of platforms like or order and pay for goods that are never delivered. Or holiday homes are advertised that in fact don’t even exist. You make a down payment and never see the money again.


And there are also many examples of internet fraud on the customers’ side. The most common scam with merchandise purchased online: someone orders something, never intending to pay for it. Such people often make the purchase under a false name.


How can merchants protect themselves against internet fraud?

Anyone selling merchandise should offer credit cards and PayPal as payment options – both are pretty secure. Caution should be exercised if a customer gives a delivery address in Switzerland, but the IP address is in another country or it’s concealed or fake. Merchants should also be alert if the delivery and billing addresses differ from one another and if the value of the purchases in the shopping cart is unusually high. Anyone operating an online shop should seek detailed advice from an expert specialising in fraud prevention.


How can consumers best protect themselves against online fraud?

Customers should not trust just any online shop. Check reports from other consumers about their experiences with the shop on Google, for example, and check where the company has its head office. In Switzerland, companies are required to state their address, including the canton, on their homepage. If you purchase from a Swiss company, it is easier to assert your legal rights, if necessary. Companies that have their head office in some exotic place do not inspire confidence. You should also be suspicious if the website contains a lot of graphical errors or language mistakes and if the published prices are unnaturally low. In addition, you should never buy from shops that offer advance payment as the only option – there is less protection against cybercrime in this case.




In what areas is online fraud widespread?

Fake online identities are found circulating on dating websites, and, of course, the trick with fake lottery winnings is one of the oldest in the book. After convincing the victim that they’ve won a lottery prize, the criminals demand money up front to cover the administrative costs of paying out the fake lottery winnings. Essentially, there are just as many potential targets as there are motives. A big bank can be a target, just like a private individual can be.


Internet fraud – what should I do? How to protect yourself as a private individual

Vigilance and a little healthy suspicion go a long way to preventing bad experiences. Be careful about what information you reveal about yourself and to whom, and remember that every bit of information that you share can potentially be misused. As a guideline, ask yourself, what information would you feel comfortable posting on your front door for anyone to see? You should never reveal more than that in the virtual world. In particular, you should protect login codes for e-mail and e-banking, credit card information and web accounts.


Protection against cybercrime: how can I best do that?

Ideally, you should encrypt the data on your mobile devices and choose a different highly secure password for each of your accounts, which you should also change regularly. A secure password is at least eight characters long and comprises letters, numbers and special characters. We also recommend using a software that stores all your login codes in encrypted form and only allows them to be accessed after entering a high-quality password.