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Cyber Monday: BBB offers insight on shopping safely online

Published: Nov. 29, 2020 at 11:06 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The COVID-19 pandemic has more people shopping online. As we head into the week and gear up for Cyber Monday, there’s more you need to be looking out for more than just good deals. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people to stay alert.

Stephanie Garland with the BBB said since the start of the pandemic, they have seen online purchase scams skyrocket in the Ozarks. She explained that scammers are taking advantage of COVID-19 and the holiday season. With more businesses expanding their online presence, hackers and scammers are creating fake deals and sites.

It’s extremely easy for scammers to mimic a famous retailer’s website therefore it’s important to check for inconsistencies when online shopping. Garland said a red flag would be missing contact information on the site. She added that it’s critical that you check the security settings. If a website says “https://” it means it’s secure. If you see in your browser that a site says “not secure” she said exit out of the site immediately.

You want to be mindful of what you’re giving websites and apps permission to so you can protect personal information and your smart devices from being hacked. Garland said carefully read what agreements you are signing and make sure you know how your selected payment work. If possible, opt for using a credit card because it has more protection under federal law. Garland said federal restrictions for a debit card compared to a credit card, are vastly different.

“With a debit card if you realized you’ve been scammed or you lost money-- after two days it goes down to $50 -- you can get back. No matter how much money you lost, that’s what federal legal law says. After two days with a debit card, it greatly depreciates from there.”

Garland said all scams reported to the BBB are immediately reported to law enforcement within 24 hours. To look at scams in your area, check out the BBB scam tracker.

According to a news release, the BBB recommends these 10 tips for safe transactions ahead of Cyber Monday:

  1. Protect your computer. Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly.
  2. Check a site’s security settings before entering financial data, such as a credit card number. If the site is secure, the URL (web address) on the payment page should start with “https://.”
  3. Shop trustworthy websites. Look for BBB Accredited Business seals on websites and click to confirm that they’re valid. BBB’s dynamic seal will take you to a site’s BBB Business Profile. You also may find reviews at bbb.org.
  4. Protect personal information. Read a site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. Don’t enter that information on unsolicited emails. If a site lacks a privacy policy, it could be a red flag that the site could sell your information without your permission.
  5. Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may display free or 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.
  6. Beware of phishing. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order, account or a package to lure the buyer into revealing financial information. If you receive such an email, BBB recommends that you call the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm a problem.
  7. Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive an item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are any unauthorized charges on the card, and many card issuers have zero-liability policies if someone steals and uses your card number. Check your credit card statement regularly for unauthorized charges. Never wire money to someone you don’t know.
  8. Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page of an order or emails confirming the order until you receive the item and are satisfied.
  9. Obtain a tracking number for shipments. If you need the product before the holidays, find out when the seller intends to ship it and, if possible, how it will be shipped. The tracking number can help you find a lost order. If the order can be picked up contact-free at a brick-and-mortar location, consider this option as well.
  10. Know your rights. Federal law requires that orders made by phone, mail or online be shipped by the date promised or within 30 days if no delivery time was stated. If goods aren’t shipped on time, shoppers can cancel and demand a refund. Consumers also may reject merchandise if it is defective or was misrepresented.

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