The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and scammers are out in force trying to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers. Retailers will do their best to protect you from fraud, but there are also some things you can do to protect yourself. Here are ten tips to avoid holiday shopping scams:
Incredible deals: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of any offers that seem significantly below the normal retail price, especially if you’re not familiar with the retailer. Scammers will often advertise amazing deals on popular items in order to lure people in.
Compare prices: Don’t just take the first deal you see. Do some research and compare prices from different retailers before making a purchase. You might find that the “amazing” deal isn’t so amazing after all.
Check return policies: Make sure you understand a retailer’s return policy before you make a purchase. Some stores have very strict return policies during the holidays, so you could be stuck with an item if it turns out to be defective or not what you wanted.
Read reviews: Before buying anything online, take a few minutes to read customer reviews. This can give you a good idea of the quality of the product and the level of customer service you can expect from the retailer.
Keep your antivirus software up-to-date: This is important all year round, but especially during the holiday shopping season when you’re likely to do more online shopping than usual. Be sure to keep your antivirus software up-to-date and run regular scans to help protect your computer from malware.
Be careful with your personal information: When shopping online, be careful about how much personal information you share. Only provide the minimum amount of information necessary to make a purchase, and be sure that any website you’re providing your information to is secure. Look for “https” at the beginning of the URL and a padlock icon in your browser’s address bar.
Use a credit card: If possible, use a credit card instead of a debit card when shopping online. Credit cards offer better protection against fraud than debit cards, so you’re less likely to be stuck with fraudulent charges.
Keep a close eye on your credit card statement: Check your credit card statement carefully after making any online purchases. If you see any unauthorized charges, report them to your credit card company right away.
Use a secure WiFi connection: When shopping online, be sure to use a secure WiFi connection. Public WiFi networks are often not secure, so it’s best to avoid them if possible. If you must use a public WiFi network, be sure to only visit websites that are encrypted (look for “https” at the beginning of the URL).
Avoid clicking on links in emails: Be careful about clicking on links in emails, even if they appear to be from a legitimate retailer. Scammers will often send fake emails with links that lead to websites designed to steal your personal information.
By following these ten tips, you can help protect yourself from holiday shopping scams. Stay safe and happy shopping!