Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Deals start popping up earlier and earlier every year. Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still a few weeks away, you should be on your guard against online shopping fraud.
More people than ever before will be shopping online for bargains this year because of the ongoing pandemic. That means that more scammers than ever will be looking for opportunities to steal your money and personal information. Shop smart, stay safe, and remember: if a deal seems too good to be true, it is!
Every year, this scam seems to pop up on social media. Secret Santa scams promise that you’ll get hundreds of dollars worth of gifts in an exchange for just a $10 investment. This scam not only steals your money, but it also encourages you to give your personal information and that of friends and family over to the scammers.
The “Secret Sister” scam popped up on Facebook about five years ago and refuses to go away. It convinces you to send small gifts–or, in one variation, bottles of wine–to strangers. In return, you’re supposed to get dozens of gifts yourself. The scam operates like a chain letter, with each participant spreading it to a certain number of friends. While the people at the very top of this suspiciously pyramid-shaped program might actually get gifts in the mail, it’s a system that cannot continue without eventually collapsing.
The best way to pay for purchases online is a credit card. They have the strongest payment protections in place, and in the event that you have a problem, the credit company can help you. Credit cards are even better than debit cards for fraud protection.
You should never pay with a gift card or wire transfer. Those are the methods that scammers prefer because they are almost impossible to trace.
Email and coupon scams are all too common during the holidays. You get a message about a great deal or a coupon that offers a deep discount. It looks legitimate, as though it came from one of your favorite stores, so you go ahead and click…
One of two things happens next. In one type of scam you’re taken to a page where you need to enter personal information or “create an account” to get the deal. This is a phishing attempt that will steal your information and sell it to the highest bidder.
Another type of scam will actually take your money for a product that doesn’t exist. By the time you realize the gift you purchased is never coming, it’s far too late to get your money back.
Giving to others during the holiday season is a beautiful way to celebrate and help your community. However, you should always give to a charity you trust. Random requests for donations on social media should not be trusted. Maybe it’s for a good cause… or maybe it’s a scam. Always research the organization first. If you receive an email or social media message about a donation drive, don’t click the link–navigate to the charity’s website directly.