The holiday season is finally upon us, and with it comes real-life Grinches. With Black Friday come and gone, the Better Business Bureau is warning online shoppers to watch out for scammers on Cyber Monday as they search for the best online deals to help them check items off their holiday shopping lists. There are a few ways, however, to ensure safe online shopping.
"But online shopping – even on Cyber Monday – has risks," the Better Business Bureau warns on its website. "Be wary of misleading advertisements, lookalike websites, and untrustworthy sellers. The following tips will help you shop online this holiday season, so you can achieve maximum savings while keeping your personal information and hard-earned money secure."
According to a list of safe online shopping practices that the organization laid out, consumers should "beware of false advertising and phony websites," which can be detected by carefully looking at item prices (if it seems too good to be true, it probably is) as well as the web address. The organization notes that scammers tend to "create lookalike websites," and consumers should make sure websites use correct spelling "and have legitimate contact information and customer service numbers."
The Bureau also recommends that consumers "shop with trustworthy sellers on secure sites only," meaning that you should stray away from any websites that you are unfamiliar with. Consumers can also check their BBB Business Profile on BBB.org, look at the rating, and read customer reviews. Secure websites have web addresses that HTTPS:// and not just HTTP://.
Cyber Monday shoppers, and any online shoppers for that matter, should also ensure that they have antivirus software installed on their mobile device or computer and make sure that it is up to date.
The Better Business Bureau also advices that online shoppers should make purchases with their credit card, as charges can be contested through your credit card company, a protective measure that is not offered through debit cards.
Shoppers should also keep a look out for phishing scams, which can be detected by "unsolicited emails, texts, calls, or letters" with messages that "may claim you have a free gift waiting for you or that there is a problem with a delivery – all you need to do is click on a link or give up your personal information." Such correspondences should be ignored.
Other advice offered by the bureau is that consumers should price check before they buy to ensure that they are truly getting the best deal, which can also lead to the discover that what seems to be the best deal is not really a real deal. Customers should also take advantage of rewards and loyalty programs and read the fine print on return policies.