CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — It’s almost Cyber Monday. This holiday shopping season, don’t fall victim to online shopping scams.
An AARP-sponsored study by Javelin Strategy & Research found that of consumers who are 50 and older, 29% say they have fallen victim to online shopping scams.
The seniors interest group says that shopping scams usually hook potential victims using a bogus website, mobile app or social media ad, and a Better Business Bureau study found that 40% of online shopping scams that it had received reports about originated from Facebook or Instagram.
AARP shared the following warning signs that what seems like a great online deal may actually be a scam:
- Discounts that are more than 55%.
- A shoddily-designed website, or one that uses sloppy English. Genuine retailers will put more time into making their websites look professional.
- Limited or suspicious contact options, such as only offering a fill-in contact form or having a customer service email through a Yahoo or Gmail account instead of a corporate one.
- URLs that have more than just the brand name, or that use unusual domains like .bargain, .app or a foreign domain instead of .com or .net.
It also shared the tips below for protecting yourself online:
- Use trusted sites instead of shopping with a search engine.
- Use other websites to compare prices if a deal looks too good to be true.
- Research unfamiliar products or brands, look at reviews and search for the name with words like “scam” or “complaint.”
- Check phone numbers and addresses on store websites to make sure they work, in case you need to contact the seller.
- Read delivery, exchange, refund and privacy policies carefully.
- Check URLs and app names at least twice for misspellings or other red flags.
- Pay by credit card—liability for fraudulent charges on credit cards is usually limited to $50 and some offer 100% purchase protection, whereas debit cards do not.
- Never pay by wire transfer, money order or gift card—sellers that ask for those payment types are scammers.
- Don’t use sites that require you to download software or enter personal information to access coupons or discount codes.