The Washington Post just reported that U.S. consumers are expected to shell out a record $9.4 billion today on Cyber Monday, a 19% increase from last year. While Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Amazon are many holiday shopping ‘go-to’ websites, there are many others that you may visit, especially when looking for that perfect personalized gift. Unfortunately, fake eCommerce websites and scams during the holiday season are on the rise.
How do you decipher a legitimate website from a fake one? Yes, it is confusing … and that is by design. It’s not easy. There are some detailed things to watch out for:
– Scammers’ tactics include manipulation and will urge you to purchase. If you’re trying to make a purchase online and are offered help with the checkout process, do not give any personal identifying information (PII) in a chat room. If you are asked to do so, exit immediately.
– Hover over hyperlinks to make sure they’re going to a legitimate website. If there isn’t a padlock symbol and an ‘https’ in the address bar, exit immediately.
– A legitimate retailer will have full contact details, including address, email and phone number, on the website. If any of those are missing, exit immediately.
– Check out the website’s customer reviews. While many are legit, if you read beyond the star rating and check the reviewer’s history (especially if it is a very positive post), you may find that the reviewer uses the same phrases for other products and companies. Red flag! Also, if their reviews are not specific about the product, they have reviewed the same product before or they do not give useful feedback, recognize that they may not be legitimate and … guess what? … exit immediately. There are online tools such as Fakespot that can help you determine a customer’s review reliability.
– Don’t use a debit card for online purchases. Credit card companies won’t insure your purchase if you use a debit card. Dedicate one credit card for all online purchases and check the statement often. If you see any unusual activity, dispute the transaction immediately.
If you suspect identity theft or fraud, please contact us day or night at 888.966.GUARD (4827) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ve got your back and are always open for you.