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Several consulting firms forecast that e-commerce sales will grow by 25-35%, year-over-year, during the 2020-2021 holiday season. And the National Retail Federation said that in September, online and other non-store sales were up 27% from the previous year. And while those number may look great for online retailers; they also look good for those seeking to scam online shoppers.
Tips to avoid online shopping scams this holiday season:
Here are six scams to watch for and tips on how to lower your chances of being defrauded:
Don’t click on links in emails
We get unsolicited emails all the time. Typically, the “hook” is that you will get a message that looks like it is from PayPal or some other well-known company, notifying you that there is a problem with your account. If it’s from a scammer, and you enter your username and password, they then save the information and will transfer your money to a foreign account. said that this is a big scam right now and while these emails might look legitimate, they’re not.
“Basically, the rule is -- don’t ever click on anything that is in an email,”
Any email that proclaims a great sense of urgency -- an “immediate” or near-term call for you to take an action quickly “before time runs out” -- is a red flag and will likely lead to phishing.
Phishing is a fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to get someone to reveal personal information, including passwords and credit card numbers. What they are going to see are essentially phishing attacks. They are going to get emails to ask them to click a link under the pretext of donating to some charity [or] ordering something from Amazon really quick.
“Too good to be true”
There’s that old saying: If it seems “too good to be true,” it probably is. If an email is sent to you from a company that has a subscription service, for instance, and they are offering you a free subscription, that should be a red flag. Before clicking on any link, you should look to see where that link is taking you. Always look at the URL in the browser or an email, so you can see where that link is going to take you before you click it.
If you put your cursor over the link on a website and hold it there, the destination of the website will appear. In an email it will typically appear in a box near the link, when you hold the cursor over it.
Emails or websites asking for private information
You should be extra vigilant for any request from an email or on a website that wants you to submit some sort of private information, such as a password, a credit card or bank card number, social security number, your address, your voter affiliation, etc,
Watch out for fake websites
It is extremely easy for scammers to set up a fake website as a reseller on Amazon and some resellers will market their fake websites on legitimate ones like Amazon and eBay. They’ll sell something in high demand like a bicycle at a low price. Everything looks fine, but then you never receive the product. “Over the last five years scammers have gotten more sophisticated and learned how to navigate and get around the system. If you don’t know what the website is you should never order from it.
If the buyer delays shipping information that it is a red flag to cancel the purchase. PayPal and other payment systems have time frames of about 60 to 90 days for you to cancel a purchase. If the seller delays and delays past that time period then never sends the package, then the seller has your money and you don’t have your purchase. It is also a good idea to purchase buyer’s insurance through PayPal, Visa, and Apple Pay to help protect you against shipping scams as it gives you more time to dispute payments.
Tips to help you shop safely during this holiday season
Here are six tips:
· Do a little comparison shopping. Some sellers have been known to sell for example a $30 item on eBay and when someone purchases it, they then buy the item and ship it for free through Amazon for $20. While it is not a scam and is legal, it shows the importance of comparison shopping, One way to compare items is to search for the item on Google to see where else you can purchase it.
· Never pay for anything on the internet with a debit card because thieves can wipe out all the money in that account, it is always best when purchasing with a card, use your credit card, NEVER your debit card. .
· Know your credit card limits. During the holiday season, it is common for credit card companies to bump your credit limit up without your knowledge. Scammers can then keep using your card regardless of the limit and you might have thousands of dollars on your card before you know it.
· If you’re going to order on the internet the best way to limit potential losses is to obtain insurance on your credit card to limit potential fraud. You can also get a prepaid credit card from a grocery store, pharmacy or a bank so that if you are a victim of fraud you lose no more money than what was on the card.
· If you’re buying from a reseller on Amazon, eBay or Walmart, look to see where the seller is from. You may want to limit your purchases to buying items from sellers in the U.S only.- China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Russia are all countries where scammers are prevalent.
· Buy from reputable sellers.
· And lastly, think about investing in several security cameras for your property to keep an eye on your holiday package arrivals as theft goes up 67% during the holidays. There are groups of scammers hired to follow UPS, FedEx and mail delivery trucks around all day and collect all the packages for resale.
· If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. The top motivating factor for people who made a purchase, then lost money was price. Don’t shop on price alone.
· Professional photos do not mean it’s a real offer. Respondents reported that website photos motivated them to engage with scammers, especially for pets/pet supplies, clothing/accessories and vehicles.
· Beware of fake websites: Check the URL, watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain, search for contact information and read online reviews.
· Report suspicious activities to BBB Scam Tracker (BBB.org/ScamTracker) to help other consumers avoid being scammed.
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