BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — With holiday shopping deals available with just a few clicks, consumers risk falling for scams and tricks.
Carmen Million, president of the Better Business Bureau of South Central Louisiana, says Santa’s reindeer aren’t the only ones on the move this season. Identity thieves and scammers are making the rounds, too.
The Better Business Bureau has outlined some tips for consumers, as holiday shopping gets into gear:
Beware of false advertising and phony websites. If a company is selling the hottest item of the year at a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for false advertising and keep a close eye on the web address in your browser. Scammers love to create look-alike websites that, at first glance, appear to belong to a trusted retailer. Make sure websites use the correct spelling of a business name and have legitimate contact information and customer service numbers.
Shop with trustworthy sellers on secure sites only. Be wary of businesses you aren’t familiar with. Check their BBB Business Profile on BBB.org, look at the rating and read customer reviews. In addition, be sure any webpage you purchase from is secure. Secure web addresses begin with HTTPS:// and not just HTTP://. Never put personal or credit card information in forms on nonsecure web pages.
Keep your antivirus software up to date. Make sure you have antivirus software installed on your computer or mobile device. This will help you to avoid nonsecure websites and pop-up phishing scams and help keep your personal information safe.
Price check before you buy. Dozens of online retailers will claim they have the best price on an item, but their offers can be misleading. Do your homework by comparing prices. Remember, the best deal may not be the real deal.
Take advantage of rewards and loyalty programs. Check your credit card rewards program for special point offers that could add up on Cyber Monday and throughout the holidays. Make purchases using loyalty programs.
Use your credit card. If any shady charges turn up later, you will be able to contest them through your credit card company. Debit cards don’t offer this same protection. Never make purchases with online sellers by giving them prepaid debit cards or wiring them money.
Understand return policies. Online store policies may change for Cyber Monday offers. Read the fine print before you buy. Understand the return or exchange policy for the specific item you would like to purchase. Be aware that stores may not allow returns for “final sale” or “closeout” items. Make sure to get gift receipts so the recipient can return or exchange the item, if necessary.
Watch out for phishing scams. Look out for unsolicited emails, texts, calls or letters. These messages may claim you have a free gift waiting for you or that there is a problem with a delivery – all you need to do is click on a link or give up your personal information. Avoid phishing scams by ignoring suspicious correspondence and calls from unfamiliar phone numbers.
For more information
If your planning on shopping online on Cyber Monday, be on the lookout for businesses on our “naughty” list. You can find them here: https://trust-bbb.org/naughty-list/
Information provided by the Better Business Bureau.