INDIANAPOLIS — Cyber Monday is typically one of the biggest online shopping days of the year–and it’s expected to be even bigger this year because of the pandemic.
Many shoppers have shifted to online shopping instead of visiting stores, but with the increase in online shopping comes an increase in scams and fraud.
The Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana says it’s important to do your research on any website you aren’t familiar with. Check the URL to make sure it matches for the website you’re trying to buy from. Also check the website URL for a lock symbol and https. He says the lock and the “s” give you extra security.
Tim Maniscalo, president and CEO of the local BBB, says a lot of the fake websites that try to scam people are made out of the country. He says shoppers should look for things like misspelled words and bad grammar because for some of the scammers, English isn’t their native language.
Maniscalo also says try to use your credit card, because it gives you more protection from fraud than a debit card.
“There’s going to be a considerable amount of online shopping that is done simply because people are not going to be going into the stores at the rate that they did in the past,” said Maniscalo.
“Unfortunately, the scammers are taking advantage of that. And we’re seeing a lot of what we call fake websites out there. So that’s what we’re really trying to caution people on are these fake websites.”
Shoppers should also monitor accounts to make sure only the amount they agreed to pay is coming out and not more. And be suspicious of deals that sound too good to be true.
The BBB says it’s easy for scammers to imitate emails so you want to be careful of any attachments they might have. It’s best to avoid clicking the link in emails, pop-ups and social media ads, but instead type the website directly into your browser.
“What we find with scams, most of them originate outside the country. Law enforcement, it’s almost impossible for them to catch these people. So what you’re doing now by informing people, that’s the best way for us to prevent these scams,” said Maniscalo.
“Lots of people get scammed on these, unfortunately. The scammers know that. We’re trying to warn people, but it’s not the end of the world. Go ahead and continue to do shopping, but just be a little bit more careful before you start clicking.”
It’s not the end of the world if you do get scammed, but report it immediately. Report it as fraud to your bank and you can also report it to BBB and www.scamtracker.org.
“People will report scams and we’ll post those. It’s a big map of the United States that comes up and then you can hone right into Central Indiana and see the scams that are going on in your area. So, it’s a great way, number one, to report scams and if you get something, let’s say on email or social media, and you think it might be scam, it’s a great way to check to see if some else reported something similar to this.”
The tool is updated daily with scams to watch out for, both locally and on a national level.
Maniscalo also says when you can also think about buying local to help support your local economy. Many of the local stores will have more unique gifts you can’t get at the big retailers.