Unfortunately the world of online Christmas shopping has its fair share of Grinches and Scrooges who look to scam you out of your money. These thieves of Christmas cheer look to trick you into giving them your valuable personal and financial information as well as to convince you to make a purchase on something that they have no intention of ever sending you. You may think to yourself, “I can spot a scam when I see one.” Just keep in mind that scammers are professionals and know what to say and do in order to make their claims look legitimate. Fortunately, you can arm yourself with the knowledge of how to conquer cunning con artists and ensure that your Holiday season remains merry and bright.
Tips to avoid a Christmas online shopping scam
1.Make your Holiday purchases only through online retailers that are well known and may also have a local brick and mortar store that you could go to in order to resolve an issue.
2.Use separate e-mail accounts and passwords when purchasing online.
3.Look for sites that begin “https” and have a “lock” symbol at the bottom of the page. Although scammers can sometimes fake these symbols of security it is more likely that a site is safe if these indicators are present.
4.Make sure that you have and update your firewall and anti-virus software. Remember that the information super highway is a two-way road and you want both the information you are sending and the information that you are receiving to be protected.
5.E-mailing personal or financial information is never a good idea as the same level of protection cannot be provided for e-mails as can be provided through a site. A legitimate vendor will never ask you to send this sensitive information via e-mail.
6.Check your bank statements to make sure that the right funds are being allocated to your purchasing site. Look over your credit card statements to see that no additional transactions were made that you did not know about. If you do not want to wait for your statement to tell you if your credit card has been used correctly, you can call the credit card company to receive a history and current balance over the phone.
7.Do not fall victim to scams of urgency. Scammers are smart and know how to manipulate your way of thinking. They will use terms like “act now” and “lowest prices ever” or may even have timers ticking down the time to hook you into making a quick decision without carefully weighing your options or determining whether or not the site is legitimate. They use your emotions against you.
8.You should never have to pay or give any financial information in order to receive a free gift. If you have to pay for a “free” gift, you should be suspicious. If you have to enter a credit card number to pay for shipping or get the gift, it isn’t free or won’t be free forever.
9.Take your time and read the small print. Some people will look to “scam” you in the most legitimate ways possible by using small print and long contractual agreements. Do not treat lightly the things that you agree to. Even if you are terribly dissatisfied with your purchase you may be unable to do anything about it if the vendor you purchased from disclosed certain information in an agreement that you have your name on.
10.There are many scams and unfortunately new ones are being created every day. Make sure that you screen through some of these more popular scams that may first show up in your e-mail: work-at-home scams, cure-all products, check-overpayment scams, pay-in-advance credit card offers, debt relief scams and investment schemes. You may be tempted by some of these cash flow scams especially if money is tight, as it often is, during your Christmas shopping time.