Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are the biggest retail and online shopping days of the year. In order to protect your holiday budget, you will need to do your homework and watch for scams. The following tips provided by Legal Shield will help ensure you are able to focus on holiday fun rather than legal disputes with retailers or losing money to scammers.
- Beware of pricing that is too good to be true. Check reviews on greatly discounted items to make sure they do not have major problems. A $250 TV might not seem like such a great deal if it does not make it through 2018. Online scammers often set up dummy websites, auction listings or ads that offer popular items far below market value. These scammers will kick into high gear for Cyber Monday. Trust your instincts and beware of scam sales.
- Read and save a dated copy of the retailer’s return policy. Many sales disputes stem from misunderstandings over return or refund policies. Make sure you read and understand the return policies before making a purchase. Some returns will require costly restocking fees and some sale items may not be eligible for return. Also, find out if you are responsible for shipping costs on a return item, as larger items could be costly to ship.
- Do your homework on extended warranties. Many products already come with a manufacturer’s warranty. In addition, your credit card company may already offer protection. Make sure you understand what the warranty covers and what is excluded. Consider the cost of the warranty versus the potential benefit.
- When shopping online use trusted retailers. It is important to make sure you are on the correct website by checking the domain name in the browser. Sometimes emails or online ads promising great deals will direct you to scam sites designed to look like a trusted retailer. The domain name at the top of your browser should contain https://. Use unique and secure passwords when setting up online accounts. If you are also an IDShield member and feel you may have fallen victim to this type of attack, you may contact an IDShield licensed private investigator.
- Read online product reviews. Product reviews can be incredibly useful to help you avoid buying crummy products or buying the incorrect item. Some online sellers post intentionally misleading product descriptions. Negative reviews will often note the difference between the product and the description. Taking a moment to read the reviews will help you avoid disappointment or hassles with returning products.
- Review marketplace seller rating information and negative feedback from previous buyers. Marketplace websites allow a wide range of individual sellers to offer products to a large audience. Many of these sites allow previous customers to rate their experience with a particular seller. Does the seller ship slowly? Are they difficult to deal with? Exercise caution when dealing with sellers who have an excess of poor feedback. Check the specific feedback to see what those who complained had to say. Know what you are getting into before you make a purchase.
- Beware shipping email scams. If you order a lot of your holiday gifts online, you know the influx of packages can be confusing. Phishing scams pretending to come from the shipping company are frequent and can be difficult to spot. Check the sender’s email address to make sure it matches the company or use the tracking info from the confirmation email you received directly from the seller.
- Check your bank account frequently. Incorrect or fraudulent charges are easier to miss when spending increases around the holidays. Save all of your receipts and review them along with your bank and credit card statements to make sure everything is accurate. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately if you notice any irregularities.
- Keep payment information secure. Never pay for items purchased online with wire transfers, money orders or cash. These types of payment offer no tracking or protection in the event of a scam. When making an online payment for goods, use a credit card, PayPal, Google Checkout or another secure online payment system. Some payment systems offer additional dispute resolution options.
If you want to learn more about LegalShield and how they can help you stay safe by listening to my Podcast interview with Chenitta Crawford.
Be safe and Happy Holidays.