Online Shopping Tips to know to stay Safe:
Author: Angelica Garcia
It’s that time of year where our bellies are full, and the wallets are definitely a LOT lighter. Shopping is in full swing and naturally we try to stretch our buck as far as we can by finding the best deals.
In recent years online shopping has advanced to where even most social media platforms have some form of marketplace for individual sellers to advertise their products. Now though this is a cheaper and more convenient alternative, there are also risks that come with the territory of shopping online.
Most Social media sites that carry this option have a Purchasers policy that generally states to avoid any type of scams by sticking to purchasing through the website checkout. What many scammers will try to do is lure buyers away from the site by claiming there is an issue with receiving payment on their end or that it is just simpler to go through another method. This could be through an instant transferring app, or the most common one I see is through Gift cards. They are untraceable so naturally this is a go to method for Scammers, all they need to do is just wait for the victim to mail them out. As for the buyer, they are waiting for a product that will not ever arrive.
For another type of Scammer, they won’t be looking for a Gift Card payout, what they go for is information. Avoid providing personal information, even if it seems out of simple conversation. This can escalate from questions like how many kids do you have to where you bank, birthday, and social security number in a matter of moments. Scammers will then use this information to try and access your bank account by posing as you or opening loan accounts using your information. Online banking information is often compromised in these situations as well, the scammer will convince a buyer to provide their login information and send themselves money before the Victim is even able to think that this was a mistake.
Let’s move on to just a regular website, where you do not have to speak with a private seller and all you must do is enter in your card information. In some cases, the checkout process is where buyers are asked to input their personal information like their date of birth and social security so be wary on what information is being asked.
So, what do you need to be looking for to ensure the website you are shopping on is legitimate?
- Look at the details, does the website have any spelling or grammatical errors
- Look to see if there is contact information listed for the company, if not how do they expect their consumers to report order issues? A customer service contact should be available.
- Reviews are always a big indicator, many times you will see past consumers comment issues they may be having with the “merchant” regarding not receiving their purchase. If you see a large number of these, that is a definite sign to stay away. (In some cases, positive reviews are posted by the scammer to create a false sense of security for buyers.)
It is peak shopping season; everyone is looking for the best deal. This also is the time when scammers are on the hunt, looking for the quickest cash out. When shopping online stick to the golden rule: If the deal is too good to be true, that’s because it is. And if you are not sure, run it by us, our employees are trained and have the experience to identify red flags in these situations.
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