‘Tis the season – to be scammed? If you aren’t smart about your online holiday shopping, it just might be.
As online shopping has continued to rise in popularity, so have the number of online shopping scams. In fact, online purchase scams now account for more than one-third of all scam reports filed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Four out of five consumers who report these scams lose money, making them the riskiest type of fraud today.
The BBB is now warning consumers ahead of the 2021 holiday season to be aware of how scammers deceive online consumers. According to the experts, scammers are likely to take advantage of current supply chain concerns to capitalize on those looking for the most sought-after items – things like electronics, toys, and other trendy gift items.
Unfortunately, spotting an online shopping scam may not be as easy as you think. Fraudsters have a variety of ways to trick trusting shoppers, from bogus websites to phishing emails to fake charities and more. Advances in technology make these scams look completely legitimate, and most consumers are unaware they’ve been had until it’s too late.
So how can you avoid getting caught in an online shopping scam this holiday season? By following a few simple tips:
● Don’t shop on price alone. It’s fun to search for holiday deals, but dramatically deep discounts are a common sign of online shopping scams.
● Do your research. Use an independent source to verify any new websites or businesses before you buy.
● Beware fake websites. Be on the lookout for misspellings, poor grammar, and URL errors. Avoid websites without accessible contact information or positive online reviews.
● Shop on secure sites. Look for “https” in the URL (the s stands for secure) and a lock icon in the address bar. These signs indicate secure encryption technology for payment processing.
● Pay the right way. Avoid using non-traditional payment methods like gift cards, wire transfers, prepaid money cards, cashier’s checks, or other untraceable transactions.
● Avoid clicking email links. Don’t trust links in emails or text messages, even if they’re tracking information. Instead, open the direct website in a new browser window and enter your log-in information.
● Take care when purchasing sought-after items. Scammers are likely to be offering the most popular items at great prices. Take extra care with trendy items and beware making quick purchasing decisions when scrolling social media.
Above all, remember one of the best rules of thumb when holiday shopping: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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