The holiday shopping season is finally here. Are you ready? Over the next few weeks, shoppers will be looking to find the best deals on Christmas gifts. Where are you getting your gift purchases? Retail stores or online shopping sites?
While everyone agrees online shopping is convenient, many consumers don't want shipping fees, want to pick up the item immediately or see it in person before buying or like to support local businesses. However, one of the biggest factors was security.
While plenty of people are worried about a retailer losing their credit card information in a data breach, there have been very few data breaches of major online retailers. A bigger worry is hackers using retail tools to trick you. We're not just talking about fake product reviews that persuade you to buy low-quality products.
Real scammers are out there trying to trick you into giving up your credit card numbers and personal information. They've got some seriously good tricks and don't give up easily. Before you fire up your browser for an online shopping spree, here are three big scams you'll run into. Don't spend another dime online before you read this!
1. Too-good-to-be-true coupons
The web is filled with great coupon sites that can shave hundreds off your shopping bill each year. Click here to find lower prices every time you shop and get instant coupons.
However, you need to watch out for coupon deals that seem too good to be true. A common online scam involves websites that lure you in with coupons for popular items like a new iPad or the hot toy of the season.
These fake coupon sites will ask for lots of personal information, including your credit card information and address. If scammers get these details, they can easily start racking up charges in your name.
Don't fall for this scam. Look for red flags, including misspellings and multiple pop-up windows, that are dead giveaways for a scam site. Stick to big-name online retailers and use safe payment systems like PayPal, Amazon Payments, Apple Pay or Android Pay.
2. Gift card scams
Everybody loves gift cards - including online scammers who want to steal your information and money. You might get an email or text with an offer for a deeply discounted gift card. It might say you can get a $25 gift card for $10, for example. Or it might say you won a $100 gift card!
If the email asks for banking or credit card information, delete it right away. A legitimate company won't ask for that information.
Some stores do have real gift card giveaways, though. So, how can you tell if your gift card prize is the real thing? Click here to see how scammers are ruining gift card giving.
Some stores do offer gift cards delivered by email. So, for example, someone can order you an Amazon gift card and have it appear in your inbox instead of your mailbox.
First, contact the person to make sure they actually sent it (it's a good opportunity to thank them as well). Also, a real gift card will have a code you can put in during checkout from the site to claim the money. It won't ask you to supply any identity information, download an attachment or take you to a third-party site.
3. Delivery scams and malicious links
Another fast spreading online shopping scam is the fake delivery email. These email scams are designed to outsmart sophisticated tracking systems of online merchants like Amazon.
What's happening now is certain third-party sellers on Amazon are scamming customers by shipping their packages to the wrong address. Most of the time, the packages don't even contain the item that was purchased. When the empty package shows up at the different address, someone who is in on the scam signs for it.
Online scammers will also target you with fake emails that ask you to click on a link or open an attachment. They might offer what seems like an amazing deal, or maybe even include a tracking link for a package you didn't order.
As a rule, don't click on any email links or open any attachments that seem suspicious. Instead, check with the person who sent the email, or just delete the messages right away. Take a test to see if you can spot a phishing email.
Get cash back without even trying when buying gifts this year
Speaking of online shopping, here are some super simple ways to get cash back that require little to no effort on your part.