As we enter the holiday season with the pandemic still in our midst, many of us will rely on online shopping for this year’s gift buying. Think of this as a possible gift to scammers, who are busy setting traps to get in on the transaction action.
Here’s how to spot and avoid online shopping scams.
How It Works
• Scammers set up fake websites or smartphone apps, often made to look just like a trusted retailer.
• Some bogus websites are made to look like a legitimate, if unfamiliar, shopping destination.
• Scammers lure shoppers with emails, text messages and ads on social media.
• They offer hot items at a fraction of the usual cost and may throw in free shipping and overnight delivery.
What You Should Know
• Some of the sham sites do deliver merchandise, but typically a knockoff brand, while others don’t bother sending anything at all.
• Bargain-basement prices on popular gift items should make you suspicious if the discount is greater than 55 percent.
• Legitimate retailers have meticulous websites — look for spelling errors, bad grammar or no contact information that may indicate the site is a fake.
What You Should Do
• Rather than click on a link from an email, text or social media ad, open your web browser and type in the web address yourself. This ensures you are going to the correct site and reduces the risk that clicking on a link brings with it — namely adding malware to your device to steal your credentials.
• When making an online purchase, use a credit card, which gives you more protections should fraud occur.
• Be sure to keep your operating and antivirus software current.
When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family and visit the Fraud Watch Network.
Information from the AARP Fraud Watch Network