Doing some ‘Christmas in July’ shopping? Be careful not to get caught in scam
Prime Day has passed, but many other retailers continue to join the trend around this time of year with mid-summer sales.
But buyer beware: Busy shopping seasons are an opportunity for scammers to use phishing messages, fraudulent websites and fake social media ads to get consumers’ money or personal information.
Online shopping has been the riskiest scam reported to BBB for three years in a row. In 2022 it was the most frequently reported scam, comprising 31.9 percent of all scam reports. Amazon also was the most frequently impersonated company in 2022 and 2021, according to BBB’s Scam Tracker℠ Risk Report.
During major sales seasons, it’s wise to brush up on common online shopping scams so you know what to look out for. A good rule of thumb is to pause before you buy. If something feels off, make your purchase with another retailer.
Tips for safe summer sale shopping:
- Keep an eye out for impostors. Amazon is one of the most impersonated retailers, and scammers also imitate other major retailers’ websites to steal personal information or money. Before buying anything, double check that the web address is spelled correctly. Know that scammers can make very convincing lookalikes – professional photography or logos don’t necessarily mean the website is legitimate.
- Don’t click on a link in an email to get to Amazon.com or any other retailer’s website. Links can have malicious attachments or take you to illegitimate websites. Instead, type the website directly into your web browser.
- Check website security. Make sure your connection to the site is secure. The URL should begin with “https://” and there should be a lock icon to the left of it.
- Stick with familiar retailers. Many major retailers have mid-summer sales, and illegitimate vendors might also try to cash in on the summer sale trend. It’s safer to stick with brands you know and trust, but if you’d like to try a new store, check it out at BBB.org before you shop.
- Shop with a credit card. It’s easier to dispute charges you didn’t approve or get your money back if there’s a problem. Keep receipts and order confirmations so you have a record of your purchases.
- Watch for post-Prime Day phishing. Scammers have been known to try to capitalize on the hype by sending phishing emails or texts after Prime Day, asking you to redeem reward points you supposedly accrued while shopping. These emails can look very realistic – so be skeptical. Don’t take unsolicited messages at face value, and don’t click on any links.
Don O’Brien is the regional director for the Quincy Better Business Bureau. Contact him at email@example.com or (217) 209-3972.
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