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Security & privacy

Shopping scams are ramping up – Here’s how to protect your wallet

It is difficult to grasp that the year is already so far along. Plans are being made for winter getaways and where Christmas will be spent. But just as you are making holiday and shopping plans, so too are scammers.

With the end-of-year shopping spree reaching billions of dollars, criminals will look for their piece of the financial pie. Every year a variety of online scams are deployed to part you with your money and personal information. Tap or click here to see last year’s top holiday scams to watch for.

But some thieves are trying to get first dibs on this season, as holiday-themed scams have already been making the rounds. Here is what to look out for so that you don’t fall victim.

Here’s the backstory

As our preference shifts from physical stores to online marketplaces, the risk of being caught up in a scam has increased. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says that online purchases have been in the top three riskiest since 2017.

The holiday shopping season will also start earlier than previous years, with scammers trying to capitalize on the influx of purchases. This means the scams will be diversified and tap into what people are most searching, or what is popular.

The BBB surveyed people who use online shopping, and 64% reported they were looking for something specific before being caught in a scam. Of the people surveyed, it became clear that you can’t always trust package tracking details.

A shocking 30% of people received fake tracking information, while 36% didn’t receive any tracking details at all. It might change this year, but the BBB found pets and pet supplies the riskiest category to shop for online.

How to avoid online shopping scams

Vigilance is the key to staying safe and looking for anything that seems out of the ordinary. Scammers often change up their tactics, so what worked last year might not be deployed again. Here are some ways to protect your wallet:

  • Before you buy any product, do some research. Check other websites to see if the price is comparable to others.
  • If you find something at a considerable discount, proceed with caution. Ensure that it isn’t a deal that is too good to be true.
  • Beware of fake shopping websites. You might find something at a lower price elsewhere but should stick to well-known retailers and websites.
  • Check that web address before you buy anything. If the URL doesn’t look like the address you expected, it could be a spoofed site. Legitimate sites will have a secure protocol if you can buy something. This can be seen in the HTTPS part of a URL.
  • Don’t trust ads found on social media. Targeted advertising will show you products you have been searching for, and scammers can tailor these ads to lure you into a scam.

Keep reading

Yeah, the holiday shopping season has already started – 15 killer deals on Amazon to buy now

PSA: You have to ship gifts earlier than ever this year [Full list of shipping deadlines]

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