Safer Shopping Means Happier Holidays

Nov 7, 2022

The Holiday season is here! Like millions of Americans, you are probably planning to buy many of your holiday gifts online. The internet has made shopping easy, affordable, and convenient – without even having to leave your home (or pajamas).

Unfortunately, this has caught the attention of cybercriminals who are keen to exploit individuals benefitting from these conveniences. Every year many consumers get scammed, with stolen money and personal information spoiling holiday cheer. The two most prevalent holiday scams are non-delivery and non-payment crimes. In a non-delivery scam, a buyer pays for goods or services they find online, but those items are never received. Conversely, a non-payment scam involves goods or services being shipped, but the seller is never paid.   

Follow these tips from the FBI about how to protect yourself from the most common Holiday Scams.

  • Plan ahead. Make a list to avoid impulse buys. Create a budget to prevent debt you cannot afford – and prevent New Year’s debt blues. 
  • Avoid buying things just to build points on your credit card. 
  • Check each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure. A site you’re buying from should have https: in the web address. If it doesn’t, don’t enter your information on that site.
  • Beware when a seller asks you to pay with a prepaid card.
  • Never wire money directly to a seller.
  • Monitor the shipping process, make sure to get and check on tracking numbers.
  • Avoid delivery scams. They often start with a text message or an email about delivering a package to your address with a fake tracking link that you are urged to click in order to update your delivery or payment preferences. You might also get a voicemail message with a call-back number or a missed delivery tag on your door with a number to call. While these messages seem legitimate, you should never click a link or call back the number from an unexpected delivery notice. Instead, contact the delivery service or seller directly using a verified number or website.

For safer online shopping, follow these tips from the FTC’s Online Shopping Guide

  • Read reviews critically – are they credible?
  • Check the seller’s refund policies.
  • Pay by credit card, when possible, in case you need to dispute the charge later.
  • Compare when you shop, include the shipping, taxes, and other fees.
  • Read the fine print, is the product refurbished, a close out? If the price is too much of a bargain, it could be counterfeit or stolen. 
  • Keep records. In addition to the receipt, hang on to all communication you have with the seller and your payment record. 

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Last updated: Dec 9, 2022 @ 12:23 pm