As the holidays wrap up and the boxing week sales start flying, it's a great chance to save on some amazing deals! Sadly, it's also a great time for online scammers to try and hustle people with identity theft cons and shady deals that could leave you twisting in the wind. Make sure to keep these tips in mind while you browse online!
Be skeptical if it seems weird!
An amazing deal from a retailer that will only accept Amazon gift cards as payment? That doesn't seem right.
An online coupon offering a free iPad on top of a crazy deal? Sounds like thin ice to me.
What, an email from a hotel chain mistakenly offering you a refund on a stay you never had? And all you have to do is give them your credit card number so they can deposit the money back in your account? It's not easy money, it's a ruse.
A lot of online fraud attempts rely on our natural enthusiasm for a great deal overriding our good sense. I get it, I'm as thrilled as the next person at the idea of a 75% off flat-screen TV, or a free gaming console included with the purchase of a cell phone. But as the old saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
These scams can be a little harder to immediately spot because there really are some great promotions around the holidays. But you can keep yourself by being burned with a little good sense and homework.
Watch for obvious red flags. If a site is asking you to pay in gift cards or some other weird form of payment, don't bother with it. That's a big sign that things are not on the up-and-up.
Be careful when visiting sites you've never been to. If a coupon directs you to a retailer you've never heard of, take a second to put them in a search engine and check up on them. Make sure they're legit, and make sure the coupon offer is directing you to the actual website and not a clone of the site made to look like the real thing.
Remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Life isn't Monopoly and the bank never makes an error in your favor. Any email looking to "refund” you money from a purchase or an "incorrect transaction” you may or may not have ever made is something to side eye. These scams trade on our natural enthusiasm for easy money and that it's embarrassing to go after them when the jig is up since you were tricked by your own greed. Don't let them put you in that spot.
Be safe and have a great holiday!
Online shopping can be a great way to save money, time, and frustration. While there will always be con-artists and frauds you have to be careful of, just by following the common sense tips listed above you'll have protected yourself against the most common pitfalls out there. Kick up your stockings and enjoy the season!