As a child I remember the excitement of taking a car ride to Abraham & Strauss in downtown Brooklyn with my parents to visit Santa and shop for holiday gifts. For those of you that have never heard of A & S, it was a massive 10-story competitor of Macy’s. The elevators had white-gloved attendants that would announce each product group as the door opened. The store was decorated with fake snow, music playing, holiday scenes in the window, and the aroma of baked goods from the bakery on the first floor filled the air.
Unfortunately, this generation will never experience the same excitement of shopping during the holiday season. I may be a little nostalgic… but how does it compare to clicking on an item and it magically appearing a day later at my door. As an adult I love it! I relish the idea of not fighting crowds, traffic on the expressway, and searching for a parking spot for what seems to be hours, while wishing not to get towed. Ah, Holidays…good times…good times!
I digress… with the holiday season coming into full swing, many shoppers are taking to online shopping to discover the best deals. While this can be a great way to save money, it’s important to stay safe while shopping online.
The Holiday season should be a happy experience and it will be… as long you take some steps to stay cybersafe while shopping online. We have put together some tips to help you protect your information and avoid scams.
Stay Safe this Shopping Season
1. If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.
Traditionally, Cyber Monday is all about extreme discounts, but don’t let that drive your smart choices. If you’re uncertain about a link or a voucher code, or a price just seems too good to be true, take this simple step before clicking. Go to the retailer’s website and confirm pricing. If still unsure, call them to verify the price.
2. Remember, your personal information is yours.
Never share personal information with vendors you don’t know or trust. Never provide your name, address, phone number, credit card number, and social security number via an email. Only provide it through a secure verified checkout.
3. Beware of Social Media marketplaces.
When buying a product from a social media open marketplace, check the profile of the person who created the listing. Be sure it’s been around for some time and the members are familiar to you. Verify that the reviews on the page are coming from actual users.
4. Only use secure payment carts.
The website must have a secure checkout process. Look for websites that have “https” in their URL and a lock symbol on the left side of the browser bar.
5. I’ve been scammed, what do I do?
Call your credit card company or bank immediately. Put a freeze on your account, replace all your debit and credit cards. Your online passwords including banking, social media accounts, and shopping profiles must be reset.
6. Your package has been delivered “Delivery Confirmation Scams”.
You will receive emails that ask you to confirm delivery. These are fake delivery confirmation emails if it requires you to provide any personal information or requires you to click on links.
7. Give to Charities not Grifters.
Many holiday scams will take advantage of goodwill and take advantage of donations to charities that don’t exist. Be sure you verify a charity prior to donating. You can easily check the authenticity of a charity at CharityNavigator.org
8. Bogus gift cards
Defrauders love to send out gift cards that have no value. Beware of the gift card scam. Never buy gift cards online or through the infamous gift card phishing email scam. Only purchase gift cards from established businesses.
9. Imitation Store Fronts
Only shop on reputable sites. If you find a great deal on some random website, chances are it’s fake. The adage if it’s too good to be true… don’t be fooled!
10 Amazon Merchants
Only purchase from Amazon merchants that have an extensive track record. Make sure the seller has many positive reviews before purchasing anything.
While I find myself being nostalgic about the experience of going shopping with my parents, I realize it was about just spending time with them. With all the paranoia and negative news about scams, online shopping does provide you with more time visiting friends and family.
So be cybersafe and have a wonderful Holiday Season!