With online shopping revenue quickly approaching $1 trillion in the United States, it’s more important than ever to be cautious when making online purchases. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently published its Five Resolutions for a Fraud-Free New Year to help you avoid online scams and stay fraud free in 2023.
Here are five easy tips to help to avoid being the next victim of online scammers:
- Be wary of unsolicited emails – Scammers can easily make an email appear to be from a legitimate organization and are quite likely to pose as one in which most of us do business (Amazon, UPS, Netflix, etc.). Never click on links or open attachments within unsolicited emails.
- Watch how you make payments – If a stranger asks you to make the payment via pre-paid debit card or CashApp, this may be a red flag. Payments made in this way are untraceable, hence a preferred method for the swindler trying to make off with your money.
- Know who you are buying from – Research the retailer. BBB recommends checking to see if they have a working customer service number and a physical location. Have others previously complained about the retailer, and do they process payments via a secure server with a URL you recognize (https://…com)?
- Watch out for identity theft schemes – Be cautious about providing your personal information. How well do you know the retailer? Are you sure you are communicating with that retailer? Why might they need your information, etc.?
- Social media need not be broadcast to all – Social media privacy settings allow you to limit what strangers can see. You should not include personal information in your profile or overtly broadcast when you may be out of town. Social media marketplaces are also becoming a hotbed of fraudulent retail activity, with BBB receiving thousands of complaints surrounding misleading social media ads.
BBB’s Scam Tracker has a searchable database of more than 275 thousand scam complaints. Combined with a healthy sense of caution and skepticism when shopping online, consumers can use this tool to check to see if others have reported similar issues with a retailer.
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is another good source for online shopping strategies to reduce your risk of being victimized. If you feel like you have been the victim of online shopping fraud, FTC can take your report today.