‘Tis the Season: How To Stay Safe During Holidays
It’s the season for swiping cards, cashing checks, and, now more than ever, clicking the “Buy now” button. Online shopping has taken over the holiday shopping sphere, especially after the advent of Cyber Monday following the infamous Black Friday. Consumers are keen on gift-buying that shows up on their front step without the need to brave the cold or the crowds. As convenient as it is, though, the digital spending spree isn’t without risks of its own. Luckily, we’ll show you how to find out if a website is a scam below.
From data breaches to fake online storefronts, the last thing you want is to fall victim to the scammers that stole Christmas. Here are five holidays scams to keep an eye on while you stuff your stockings this year.
1. Brushing Scams
Have you ever had an Amazon or other package show up on your front doorstep without you having ordered it? If so, your home address might’ve fallen prey to a brushing scam. Brushing scams are a way that online vendors and manufacturers can fake positive reviews for defective merchandise. By plugging in a random address from the Internet to make the transaction appear legitimate, these scammers can send inferior products to your house and use your address to write phony testimonials.
Though you won’t be charged for the products you receive, it’s still unsettling to know that your address is being used without your permission. What’s more, these types of schemes reduce the extent to which any of us can trust online product reviews. You can certainly do a few things to keep your address safe from prying Internet eyes.
For example, if receiving mail from online retailers is necessary, you can subscribe to an online P.O. box address to keep your home address private. Online P.O. boxes are staffed locations that receive mail on your behalf so that you can pick packages up at your leisure with no invasion of privacy necessary or have the parcel forwarded directly to your home address.
2. Unbelievably Low Deals
There’s a killer Black Friday sale, and then there’s a “too good to be true” discount on the highest-ticket items of the year. Some online scammers will advertise bottom-of-the-barrel pricing on top-tier merchandise to tempt consumers into inputting their payment information. Only buy from reputable retailers, check the reviews, and if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Online Auction Frauds
Unlike a real-time auction wherein you can see the merchandise with your own eyes, online auctions benefit from a distance. Shoppers may find themselves bidding highly for items that aren’t as described or don’t even exist, to begin with. As with the previous tip, one of the best ways to avoid falling victim to this trick is to do your own research in advance.
4. Fake Storefronts
It’s difficult for brick-and-mortar stores to sell you fake or non-existent merchandise because you can see and touch everything you might buy. Online stores are different. Unfortunately, it’s too easy for thieves to steal pictures from other websites and pretend to sell the same products at a lower or similar price. Check reviews and the Better Business Bureau before making any significant purchases.
5. Free Shipping Scams
You might receive an email or text promising that you’re one of a few lucky shoppers selected for a steep discount on the season’s best gifts. Scammers may promise only one dollar for a PS5, and you just pay the shipping fee of ten dollars. Unfortunately, no such gift exists, and the shipping charge is a ploy to steal your credit card information. Be wary of unsolicited emails and texts, do your research in advance and always check the sender’s full address for legitimacy.
You don’t have to let scammers steal your holiday season with credit card fraud and phony items. Do your research well before giving anyone your payment information this holiday season.
How To Know If A Website Is A Scam
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How To Report a Scammer
Let your family and friends know about these holiday scams by sharing this article on your social media outlets. You can officially report scammers and other suspicious activities to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using this link: Report To The FTC Here
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