As more and more companies transition to online platforms, online shopping is quickly taking over as the go-to method for acquiring goods. Shopping online allows you to compare prices at multiple stores and get the best deal much quicker without having to leave the comfort of your home or deal with crowds, especially during a pandemic and with flu season right around the corner. However, all of these benefits don't come without risk. Scammers are always looking for ways to access your personal and financial information, and online shopping provides them with an excellent opportunity to do both.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), online shopping was the most common scam last year, making up 1 in 4 complaints, with 81% of consumers reporting a financial loss. Early data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this year already showed record numbers of financial loss from undelivered goods purchased online. The most common items involved in an online scam include clothing, jewelry, electronics, health products, and the most popular holiday gift item, gift cards. Before you click the "Buy Now" button, take a minute and review these tips to make sure your purchase is legitimate, safe, and secure.
- Look for the Lock: Make sure your information is encrypted by checking the website URL. Secure websites will show a padlock next to the URL and begin with "https:", avoid websites that use "http:."
- Check the Vendor: Only shop online with established vendors. Avoid websites that mimic trusted brands, offer significant discounts for popular products, and don't have contact information. Beware of products sold on Instagram and Facebook that offer too good to be true deals and provide little to no product information. "Spoofing" sites like these not only put your money at risk but can harvest your personal and financial information as well.
- Pay Securely: Unlike debit cards, credit cards hold more protections against fraudulent charges and can limit your liability and financial loss. Avoid making a purchase online with debit cards, direct wire transfers, or money orders. For additional security, keep your receipts and check your statements frequently to make sure nothing is amiss.
It can feel great to buy something online, but whether it be a holiday present or a necessity, it's essential to take your time and pay attention to what could potentially be a scam. To learn more about scams, fraud, and identity theft, visit MaricopaCountyAttorney.org/ScamsAndFraud