The Consumers’ Organization of Macedonia and the Macedonian E-commerce Association, shared recommendations with citizens which they should follow to protect themselves from online scams.

Firstly, the Consumers’ Organization of Macedonia explains that when online shopping, special attention should be paid to sales on social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and others) from unregistered companies or those without a registered headquarters. These companies do not offer payment through transactions or bank accounts, and they do not provide receipts/invoices, warranty cards, or other product documentation.

In Macedonia, such illegal sales on social media platforms are not specifically regulated. Unlike legal online sales, there is no mechanism to prevent individuals from creating profiles on social media platforms and selling products, concealed behind a fake profile or an online shop name, the Consumers’ Organization explains.

That's why it is recommended for citizens to be cautious when shopping on social media, as they may face difficulties in protecting their consumer rights in the future.

Due to this, the Consumers’ Organization of Macedonia advises consumers, when shopping on social media, to first determine and investigate whether the shop is registered as a company, has a physical location/headquarters, or is registered as an online shop. Similarly, it's recommended to check if the seller offers payment options through transactions, bank payment slips, and whether they send a valid confirmation email for the order. Additionally, sellers should provide a valid fiscal receipt, invoice, or certificate of receipt upon delivery.

The Consumers’ Organization of Macedonia warns against falling for deceptive marketing by online sellers on social media, such as "one-day only" discounts, product promotions of copies of popular brands, free products, and the like.

Moreover, when online shopping, consumers should avoid giving too much personal information to merchants. If in doubt, they should always verify their bank accounts or statements after making a payment.

By the way, in Macedonia, there are laws for e-commerce and consumer protection that define online sales, along with the rights and obligations of both parties, but these laws apply only to registered online merchants. Therefore, citizens need to thoroughly check the virtual store from which they intend to make a purchase.

The Macedonian E-commerce Association has also formulated recommendations for citizens to assist them in making informed decisions for online shopping.

As part of the platform, they have developed the guide Consumer Protection in N. Macedonia, where citizens can first acquaint themselves with their consumer rights and the protection offered by the law. They have also established an E-Merchant Register, which allows for easy verification of whether the company from which a purchase is being made is a registered legal entity and offers e-payment. Over 100 e-stores in the country have been granted the "verified e-merchant" badge, which supports policies and practices beneficial to consumers.

According to the Macedonian E-commerce Association, checking the credibility, legitimacy, and good working practices of an e-store is the first step citizens should take.

The Macedonian E-commerce Association recommends that consumers verify the company from which they are making an online purchase by reading their Return Policy, Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and Terms of Use. Additionally, they should check if the site is secure, i.e., if it uses the https protocol – the padlock located to the left of the site name in the search bar indicates this.

When online shopping, the Macedonian E-commerce Association advises citizens to read reviews left by other buyers, as these can provide insights into their (dis)satisfaction with the e-store. Also, they should check if the legal company name and contact details are publicly available.