It’s that time of the year again! With it being Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the holidays just around the corner, its important to prepare yourself with the best cybersecurity tips! Keep reading to learn how to make sure your online shopping is safe and secure.
In 2020, the market share of online retail sales in the U.S. was higher than general merchandise sales, including department stores for the first time in history. With so many goods being purchased online, cybercrime is also on the rise with Americans reporting more than $265 million in non-delivery scams. This week, we are sharing 3 online shopping scams to watch for.
Scam 1 – Mystery Shopper
Have you seen online ads asking you to become a mystery shopper? These ads promise you lucrative pay simply for buying items undercover, but some are not legitimate at all.
Once you get in touch with a mystery shopping scam, the scammer may send you a cheque for hundreds of dollars. Then, they’ll instruct you to cash it, take a portion for yourself, and then forward the remaining funds to the employer.
However, the cheque itself is actually bogus and will eventually bounce. This makes you liable for the money you spent as well as any service fees related to the bounced cheque.
Other iterations of this scam include being asked by scammers to wire money, buy gift cards, and paying for certifications or fees before you can start your mystery shopping job (or any other job).
If something seems too good to be true, it likely is. Always stop and think when you get an offer like this.
Scam 2 – Crowdfunding Campaigns and Charity Scams
The holidays can be a great time to give back. In addition to the more traditional route of giving to a charity or non-profit, crowdfunding has emerged as a popular way for artists, online creators, startup companies, and individuals experiencing hardships to ask the public for financial support.
Some popular crowdfunding websites and platforms you might have heard about include Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo. However, despite these websites having a great reputation, the person responsible for the crowdfunding campaign may not be in it for the right reasons, like this couple in Philadelphia who conspired a fake GoFundMe campaign.
Before you make a donation to a crowdfunding campaign, make sure to do a simple background check on the business or the person’s name using websites such as:
- Does the company or person actually exist?
- Have they launched other crowdfunding campaigns?
- How believable does their story or mission sound?
Unfortunately, are also individuals that establish fraudulent charities or fake websites for legitimate charities. You can use websites such as Guidestar or Charity Navigator to find out whether an organization is the real deal and to make sure you locate the official and secure website link.
Scam 3 – Online Purchases Scams
Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist, Kijiji – you likely know about these major websites providing a marketplace for goods and services. But did you know they have high rates of scams where customers have lost money as a result?
These online shopping scams take place in many forms, with the most common one being a scammer listing items for sale, collecting payments for it, and then never shipping the items. Although some websites like eBay and Amazon protect buyers from this, on other websites a refund is never guaranteed.
Other times, the scammer lists fake items for sale. Check out this news story about a woman who purchased a fake second-hand iPhone online.
Now that you know more about these scams, be sure to share this blog with your family and friends so they can be aware too! Want to learn more? Check out some of our other articles below for more information on how to protect yourself.
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