How to Avoid Fraud and Scams With Online Holiday Shopping

While most people will be joining the millions of shoppers that flock to the malls and shopping centers to purchase holiday gifts, a large number of smart shoppers will be taking advantage of online gift stores. Because of hectic schedules, many people quickly discover that finding time to complete their holiday shopping is challenging. In the afternoon and weekends, which are the most convenient times to shop, the malls are packed and the parking lots lined with cars. The best time to shop is during the weekdays. Of course, unless you are a stay-at-home, or privileged to enjoy an extended lunch break, weekday shopping is not an option.

If shopping online this holiday season, it is important to protect yourself from scams. The internet is the place to find some great deals. However, it is also a great place for thieves to prey on unsuspecting buyers. If purchasing your gifts online, avoid losing your hard earned money. Here are a few techniques that will keep you protected during the holiday shopping season.

Buying From an Online Auction

Online auctions such as EBAY, Ioffer, and UBid are easy to join. Through browsing the variety of categories, you can find high demand items at incredibly low prices, and hard to find items. While you may be able to snag a hot ticketed item half price, there is no way to guarantee that the seller will ship your item once you send funds to pay for the item. To avoid this common online auction practice, only purchase items from reputable sellers. In the world of online auctions, all sellers and buyers have a feedback score or rating. Buyers and sellers rate each other. For example, if you are a seller, and the individual who purchased your item was a fast payer, as a seller you can give this person a positive feedback score. The higher a person’s score, the better their reputation. Read a seller’s feedback score before purchasing items. Moreover, be cautious of a seller with many negative feedbacks.

Is the Online Site Secure?

Although much information is available to help online buyers avoid frauds and scams, many people fail to adhere to basic buying tips. When purchasing an item from an online store, search the site for a key or padlock symbol. These symbols are generally located in the bottom right. If you cannot find the security symbol, do not purchase from the site. Sites without a security symbol cannot guarantee that your information will be safe from online hackers. Moreover, the site or company may be fraudulent. They advertise items for sale, and then steal your credit card information. Furthermore, secured payment sites have web addresses such as shttp or https.

Pay with a Credit Card

Avoid making online purchases with a checking account or wire transfer. While many reputable companies offer this option, this is also the perfect way for a crook to steal from your bank account. Although you authorize that a specific amount be drafted from your account, once a thief has your bank account information, they have the ability to take your money and run.

Keep all Receipts and Email Confirmations

Most legit companies will submit email confirmations of your payment and shipping information. Instead of deleting this information, retain a copy for your records. Thus, if an online company or seller charges your credit card a different amount, ships the wrong item, or refuses to ship the item, you have proof of purchase.

Avoid Online Credit Card Offers

During the holiday season, thieves are on the prowl. Technological sophisticated crooks have the ability to design very realistic websites. Thus, they may send out emails advertising low-interest credit card offers. Because of the holidays, individuals needing the extra money may fall prey to this scheme, and apply for a fake offer. Once the thieves have your name, address, social security number, and other personal information, they have the power to open credit accounts in your name. To avoid this headache, do not apply for online credit card deals. If you do, closely examine the website for security symbols, or contact the credit card company to confirm that the offer is legit.

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