Thanksgiving is almost here, but for shoppers the real excitement can be the sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Indiana’s Attorney General Todd Rokita warns you to stay safe when spending your money.
The Better Business Bureau says that online scams take up around 35% of all fraud reports. Scams reached an all time high in 2021, and while the number of scams this year is still lower than last, if trends continue BBB says loses could reach up to $380 million across all of North America.
“For many Hoosiers, the holiday season is about showing your family and friends how much you care through generosity,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Sadly, these criminals view it as an opportunity to steal innocent people’s money and identities. I encourage everyone to be extra cautious while holiday shopping this year.”
Around a third of online scam reports come from fake websites, while just under half of the scams are initiated through social media or emails.
To keep your money and personal information safe, the Attorney General and BBB recommend these tips:
1. If a product is advertised at an unbelievably low price that sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
2. Be extra cautious when booking through an unfamiliar company. Check the Better Business Bureau ratings and reviews of the company to see if there have been any allegations of scams. Some websites may look legitimate, but fall apart with scrutiny.
3. The other party insists on immediate payment, or payment by electronic funds transfer, wire service, cash apps like Zelle and Venmo, or with gift cards. They may insist that you pay up-front for vouchers before you can access a cheap deal or a giveaway.
4. The social media-based store is very new and selling products at very low prices. The store may have limited information about delivery and other policies.
5. An online retailer does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details. The seller may be based overseas, or the seller does not allow payment through a secure payment service such as PayPal or a credit card transaction.
The BBB also recommends taking extra caution when shopping for emotional purchases like wedding dresses or pets, since shoppers may ignore red flags.
However if you are shopping, it’s near impossible to be completely safe from scams. If you do find any suspected scams, Indiana Attorney General Rokita’s office encourages you to file a complaint online at indianaconsumer.com or by calling 800-382-5516.