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Don’t Fall For These Shopping Scams

Black Friday is almost here and although we’re all excited to find the best deals, make sure to be on the look-out for scams across the internet! Here are some tips to keep in mind to help you shop safely.

Warning Signs

  1. Many of the ads are for off brand gadgets or they’ll offer luxury items such as popular brands of clothing, jewelry and electronics at very low prices. They’ll also have features that sound too good to be true.
  2. The link to purchase the item directs users to a seemingly randomly generated URL, usually with an extension like “.site” or “.shop.”
  3. The seller requires immediate payment, or payment by electronic funds transfer or a wire service. They may insist that you pay up-front for vouchers before you can access a cheap deal or a give-away.
  4. The online store may have limited information about delivery.
  5. An online retailer does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details.
  6. The seller may be based overseas, or the seller does not allow payment through a secure payment service such as PayPal or a credit card transaction.
  7. Legitimate sites will show a physical address and a phone number somewhere.
  8. Words like “refurbished,” “vintage,” or “close-out” may indicate that the product is in less-than-mint condition.

Steps You Can Take To Protect Yourself

  1. Check if the website or social media page has a refund or returns policy, and that their policies sound fair. Legit online shopping sites have detailed complaint or dispute handling processes in case something goes wrong.
  2. When using retail websites, find out exactly who you are dealing with. Only pay for items using a secure payment service. Look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol, or a payment provider such as PayPal.
  3. Avoid arrangements with a sellers that ask for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. It is rare to recover money sent this way. Never send money, give credit card or online account details if you are suspicious.
  4. Google the site and owner to check what the search results say. Check for online reviews of the site or seller.
  5. The retail site’s home screen might display a seal of approval from organizations that vouch for the retailer’s reputation or responsible data collection practices, such as the Better Business Bureau Seal, the TRUSTe Certified seal, or the Norton Secured Seal.

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