Avoiding Holiday Shopping Scams
Online scams always increase during the holidays. With a higher volume of shoppers during the holiday season, online scams are always looking for new consumers to scam and online shopping can increase the chances of being scammed.
So how can you shop safely online?
Be Wary of Social Media Ads and Unknown Websites
Social media advertising has seen an influx in scams. Brand name items at prices that are almost too low to be true are enticing buyers into buying but frequently, no item is sent or what is sent is not the name brand and of very low quality. In addition to the Bait-and-Switch type of scam, websites will also create websites that look very similar to the actual brand or store site, but the URL is just slightly off. These websites are often designed to take the payment information of shoppers and instead of their order, they find their banks or credit card filled with fraudulent charges.
Always check the URL for any website before you order and if the price sounds too good to be true, it usually is. For social media, verify when the page was created because they often create a page to pay for ads to go out right after creating the website. You should also never buy from a website that is not secure (it will have HTTPS:// before the web address).
Reviews are another way to help verify if a website is legitimate because as more people have issues with their order, or realize they were scammed, they will post reviews about it.
Use your Credit Card instead of your Debit
If your debit card information is stolen, that gives the thieves instant access to your money. Your credit card is not linked to your bank balance and offers a buffer of protection when you use it over your debit card. Credit cards also offer better fraud protection than most debit cards, which is another reason to use them for your online shopping. U
Do not Re-Use Passwords
Signing up for multiple store accounts with the same password is never a good idea. If one account is breached, then the thieves can easily just try the password on the most common shopping sites. Using a password manager is a good way to manage your passwords so you can use a unique one for each website.
What Steps do you Take if you are Scammed?
· Notify your bank or credit card company. If you used PayPal, notify them that you have been scammed.
· File with the FTC - The FTC has a website that helps your report a variety of scams and fraud. You can start the report here.
· The Better Business Bureau has a scam tracker website – and every report helps scam websites be removed faster – start a report here.
· Leave online reviews to warn other consumers about your experience.