Avoid Online Holiday Shopping Scams

(WXYZ) – The Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Michigan offers safety tips to help you avoid getting ripped off while shopping online this holiday season. 10 are shown below.

  • Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so be sure to shop on a legitimate site. If the site lacks contact information, that’s a red flag. Discover the retailers on BBB.org [bbb.org] before shopping.
  • Check the security settings for a site. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) must start with “https: //” [”] and include a lock icon on the shopping or cart page.
  • Be a wise buyer. When shopping online, be sure to take your time and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look up the return policy [bbb.org]; While many online orders can be returned for a full refund, others have a restocking fee. Some items cannot be returned; know before you buy.
  • Protect personal information. Read a site’s privacy policy [bbb.org] and understand what personal information is requested and how it will be used. If a site doesn’t have a privacy policy, it’s a big red flag that it could be a scam.
  • Think before you click. Be especially careful with email solicitations and online advertisements on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise specials or trendy clothing that doesn’t live up to the hype.
  • Beware of offers that are too good to be true. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs, or your purchase may sign up for a monthly fee. Look for and read the fine print.
  • Watch out for phishing. Phishing [bbb.org] emails may look like a message from a well-known brand, but clicking on unknown links may put you at risk of malware and / or identity theft. Popular scam claims to be from parcel delivery company [bbb.org] with links to “tracking information” about an order you don’t remember placing. Don’t click!
  • Buy with a credit card. In the event of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card offers additional protection; it’s easier to dispute charges you haven’t approved or get your money back if something goes wrong. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards do not have the same protections as a credit card.
  • Keep the documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page or confirmation email until you receive the item and are satisfied. Make sure you know and understand the return policy [bbb.org] and keep this documented with your purchasing records. According to the FTC, when you shop online, sellers are expected to ship your order within the time frames listed in their listings, or within 30 days if the listings do not give a deadline. If a seller can’t ship within their promised time frame, they must give you a revised ship date, with the option of either canceling your order for a full refund or accepting the new ship date.
  • Keep a clean machine. Install firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software for network security [bbb.org]. Check for and install the latest updates and regularly run virus scans on your computer, tablet and smartphone.

To learn more about how to avoid The 12 Christmas Scams, visit the BBB website at https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/23497-the-naughty-list- bbbs-12-scams-of- Christmas [bbb.org]

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