Shopping online for Cyber Monday? Don’t get scammed

How well do you know the website and what you’re buying?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Black Friday shopping is almost over, but there are still plenty of opportunities over the next few days to get a good deal. That’s because of sales happening on Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

But even though getting your shopping done without ever leaving the couch is convenient, authorities are warning consumers that scammers aren’t taking Monday off. So, it’s increasingly important to keep an eye out for misleading offers or deals that look too good to be true.

“You got to look for click-bait,” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said. “It will look like an advertisement (that’s) part of the website, but it’s not. It’s meant to get someone to click on the ad and take them to a different site that is not part of the original company.”

Patronis’ office has this advice for those looking to avoid scams on Cyber Monday:

  • Do you know the retailer? Stick to retailers you know and, preferably, have shopped with before.
  • Have you done your research? If you aren’t familiar with a retailer, look into them before buying products online. Search the retailer’s name along with the terms “reviews” and “complaints” to see if anyone else has had issues with them.
  • Is your Wi-Fi connection secure? Avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi while making purchases. Using public Wi-Fi networks can give hackers access to your transactions.
  • Is this website secure? Always check the website’s security using several tricks: Look for a URL that begins with “https.” That “s” indicates the website is more secure. Also check for the lock icon next to the web address on your browser.
  • Could this be a coupon scam? Online retailers offer coupons on Cyber Monday, and scammers may copy this method in hopes of tricking consumers into providing financial information to use their fake discount code or gift card.

Below is a list of additional tips from the Federal Trade Commission:

  • Avoid clicking links in emails. Scammers know it’s Cyber Monday, too. If an expected email promises awesome online deals, don’t click on those embedded links.
  • Pay with your credit card. Unlike your debit card, a credit card provides extra layers of protection, like the right to dispute charges you suspect are fraudulent.
  • Ensure happy returns. What is the website’s return or exchange policy? Is there a re-stocking fee? Find out the answers before checking out.
  • Keep receipts and records. Print or save records of online transactions until you get the goods.

Also, if you plan on donating any money this holiday season, make sure you follow these same guidelines to guarantee that your money ends up in the right hands.

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