Avoid Holiday Shopping Scams

Using Credit Card to purchase item online

posted on Thursday, December 5, 2019 in Fraud

‘Tis the season for holiday gifting, and many shoppers will go online this time of year to find the best deals on popular items. But the sellers you buy from may not be what they seem.

Thousands of people become victims of holiday scams every year. Scammers can rob you of your hard-earned money, personal information, and, at the very least, a festive mood.

Do your part to avoid becoming a victim. These simple tips can help you look out for scammers during the holiday season or any other time of year:

  • Always get a tracking number for items purchased online so you can make sure they have been shipped and can follow the delivery process.

  • Be wary of sellers who post an advertisement as if they reside in the U.S., then respond to questions by stating they are out of the country on business, family emergency, or similar reasons.
  • Avoid sellers who post an advertisement under one name but ask that payment be sent to someone else.
  • Consider canceling your purchase if a seller requests funds be wired directly to them via a money transfer company, pre-paid card, or bank-to-bank wire transfer. Money sent in these ways is virtually impossible to recover, with no recourse for the victim. Always remember that anyone who asks you to use one of these forms of payment might be a scammer. A credit card is generally the safest way to pay for an online purchase.
  • Verify the legitimacy of a buyer or seller before moving forward with a purchase. If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, check their feedback rating. Be wary of buyers and sellers with mostly unfavorable feedback ratings or no ratings at all.
  • Avoid buyers who request their purchase be shipped using a certain method to avoid customs or taxes inside another country.
  • Be suspect of any credit card purchases where the address of the cardholder does not match the shipping address. Always receive the cardholder’s authorization before shipping any products.
  • Always be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.

If you do become the victim of a holiday scam, contact your financial institution immediately. You should also inform your local law enforcement agency and tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Lastly, a friendly reminder that your financial institution will never call and ask you for your card number, 4 digit pin, online banking credentials, etc. Never give your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you. Don’t confirm the last 4 digits. And don’t give a bank account or credit card number – ever – to anybody who contacts you asking for it.

Happy Holidays!

- Jessica S