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BBB offers these tips for safe online shopping

BBB warns of 'synthetic' identity theft that combines information from multiple people
Posted at 1:39 AM, Dec 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-05 08:59:02-05

(WXYZ) — The Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Michigan offers safety tip to help you avoid getting scammed while online shopping this holiday season. 10 are posted below.

  • Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. If the site is missing contact information, that is a red flag. Check out retailers at BBB.org [bbb.org] before you shop.
  • Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “https://” [”] and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.  
  • Be a savvy shopper. When shopping online, be sure to take your time and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return policy [bbb.org]; although many online orders can be returned for a full refund, others have restocking fees. Some items cannot be returned; know before you buy.
  • Protect personal information. Read a site’s privacy policy [bbb.org] and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If a site doesn’t have a privacy policy, that’s a big red flag that it may be a scam.
  • Think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals or trendy clothing that don’t measure up to the promotional hype.
  • Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs, or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.
  • Beware of phishing. Phishing [bbb.org] emails can look like a message from a well-known brand, but clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware and/or identity theft. One popular scam claims to be from a package-delivery company [bbb.org] with links to “tracking information” on an order you don’t remember making. Don’t click!
  • Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve or to get your money back if there is a problem. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.
  • Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page or email confirmation until you receive the item and are satisfied. Be sure to know and understand the return policy [bbb.org] and keep this documented with your purchase records. According to the FTC, when you shop online, sellers are supposed to ship your order within the time stated in their ads or within 30 days if the ads don’t give a time. If a seller can’t ship within the promised time, they have to give you a revised shipping date, with the chance to either cancel your order for a full refund or accept the new shipping date.
  • Keep a clean machine. Install a firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software for network security [bbb.org]. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly on your computer, tablet, and smart phone.

To learn more about how to avoid the 12 Scams of Christmas, visit the BBB website at https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/23497-the-naughty-list-bbbs-12-scams-of-christmas [bbb.org]