How to avoid being scammed online from Cyber Monday through Christmas

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – There’s a lot of online shopping to do between Black Monday and Christmas. For scammers, this period is prime time to steal people’s hard-earned money.

The Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Indiana reports more scams in the first nine months of this year than in all of 2019. That’s because the pandemic is pushing more people to do their shopping online, hence, more opportunities for scammers to do what they do best.

The BBB is warning shoppers not to let desperation for a hot new toy make them do something unwise. For example, Playstation 5’s and Baby Yoda’s are going to sell out fast in stores. If you go online to get them, make sure it’s from a reputable website so you don’t end up with a knock off toy or worse – no toy at all. If you’re on a site with misspelled words or see prices that seem too low, it may be a site attempting to steal your personal info.

“That’s a huge thing to watch out for because If the price is too good to be true, it probably is,” said Nicole Thomas, spokeswoman for the BBB Serving Northern Indiana. “It’s worth paying a little bit more at a retailer that you’re familiar with so that you don’t get scammed out of your money. What we expect to see this holiday season is unfortunately, more scams.”

The BBB explained that scammers also love to steal gift card money. If you buy one, look carefully at the packaging for any tears, wrinkles, or other indications of tampering, and see if the PIN code is exposed. Scammers may already have the card’s info and will use the money on it as soon as you get the card activated.

Thomas said to also be careful with text messages. You may get one that says your package couldn’t be delivered and when you click the link in the text, it may ask for your information, availability, or a tracking number to set things straight.

“Between Thanksgiving and Christmas many more of us are expecting a delivery, so that may throw you for a shock when you click the link and you then have to enter information, that personally identifiable information could be used to steal your identity,” she said.

It’s best to always go directly to a shippers website.

Here are some more BBB tips:

  • Beware of false advertising and phony websites.
  • Shop with trustworthy sellers on secure sites only.
  • Keep your antivirus software up to date.
  • Price check before you buy.
  • Take advantage of rewards and loyalty programs.
  • Use your credit card.
  • Understand return policies.
  • Watch out for phishing scams.

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