NBC 7 Responds

Here's how to not get scammed this holiday season

Here's how you can keep the grinches away from your bank account when shopping

NBC Universal, Inc.

Now more than ever, our phones and computers make it easier for us to get started on our holiday shopping. BUT easier doesn’t mean safer.

“Online shopping scams continue to be the number one scam year in and year out,” said Cinthya Lavin from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Lavis says as we get closer to the holidays, more and more scammers start having a field day with online buyers. “Especially on social media, we see all sorts of ads when it comes to high-ticket items like cell phones and tablets, all those electronics that are very popular and people are always looking for a discount.”

According to the BBB, these tempting ads could take you to fake websites, where the real trouble may begin. “First having your identity stolen. Your address, your name, phone number so that scammers can access all sorts of information,” Lavin said. “And the second is having your banking information stolen and having unauthorized charges on your credit card.”

Here are some ways to protect your holiday happiness according to the BBB:

How to safely shop online

  • Check a site’s security settings. The web address should start with HTTPS and include a lock icon.
  • Look for a site’s privacy policy. If it doesn’t have one, it’s a big red flag.
  • Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. There may be hidden costs or your purchase might sign you up for a monthly charge, so read the fine print.
  • Pay with a credit card. They offer more protection against scams than debit cards.

Speaking of cards, gift cards are also popular this time of year. Many of us may just buy a whole bunch of them to quickly wrap up our holiday shopping, but be sure to check the cards closely.

“The card may be scratched in the back because the scammers take those numbers prior to the purchase of the card,” said Lavin. “And once it’s purchased they can take those funds out of the card and you give that card to someone but it has no money because a scammer took the money.”

Another good way to stay clear of scams is to do a Google search of the company you’re about to send money to with the word “scam” right next to it, then pay attention to any red flags that may pop up.

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