Fraud Prevention Series: How to Avoid Online Shopping Fraud

December 14, 2021

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, an increase in online shopping fraud reports usually follows. In 2020, these reports more than doubled. Here are three ways to protect yourself while shopping online.  
Online shopping scams continue to be a major risk to consumers, according to the Better Business Bureau’s 2021 BBB Online Purchase Scams Report. Along with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide delays in shipping, false shipping notification scams have become more prevalent. More than 30% of all phishing victims were deceived by phony shipping notifications.
Here are some red flags for fraudulent shipping notices:
  • Email contains poor grammar and spelling errors 
  • Be wary if the email requests immediate action
  • Never click on links in an email you are not expecting
To help you stay safe this shopping season, here are the most common online shopping scams and how to protect yourself.
1. Shop with who you know
A good practice is to shop directly with reputable online retailers you know and trust. Bookmark your favorite shopping sites to avoid having to type the retailer’s name into your browser. Even a small typo could take you to a fake site. Making a “purchase” on an illegitimate site may allow scammers to access your credit card number and other personal information.
2. Check out new-to-you sites
This time of year it can be challenging to avoid online shopping scams, especially as eye-catching advertisements from companies unknown to you are appearing on social media and while you are surfing the web. In addition, ads for hard-to-get items may appeal to you as supply issues continue. 
One way to protect yourself is to do some research on companies you see ads for but are unfamiliar to you. Check the Better Business Bureau’s website for the retailer’s name and look at online reviews. Sometimes fraudsters add contact information from legitimate businesses to make their false sites look real. The FBI recommends looking for a U.S. address and phone number on the retailer’s website and calling it to verify it is a legitimate business.
3. Watch out for phishing and smishing
Fraudsters are good at phishing — the fraudulent practice of sending emails claiming to be from reputable companies to persuade individuals to reveal personal information — and smishing — text message fraud used to lure victims into revealing account information or installing malware. By impersonating well-known companies, they use different tactics to prompt victims into clicking on encrypted links. Be cautious with emails and text messages you are not expecting, and, again, make it a practice to never click on links.
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Tags: Fraud Prevention Series, Credit Cards, Tips and Tricks