Devin Partida writes about cyber security and technology. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com.
The BBB (Better Business Bureau) is forewarning customers to shop with trusted retailers only. As online scams continue to rise, the bureau is seeing many fraud-related reports doubling since last year.
The President of Better Business Bureau in NW Ohio and SE Michigan, Dick Eppstein, states, “The bad guys get smarter every year, and the ads get more convincing every year. That’s why we do these warnings, to warn these people, please buy from reputable companies you know and trust, or if at all possible, buy locally.”
Of course, a majority of these scams are happening throughout popular social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Most of those scammed online are younger and respond to “harmless” ads on these trusted social media sites.
Scammers are desperate and will do anything to make a sale—which means there are plenty of lies that may signal red flags when it comes to holiday shopping online.
As scammers steal money out of consumers’ pockets, people need to be aware of the risks involved with internet shopping.
Most common online scams
Some of the supply chain issues that we’ve seen recently have led to a disruption in the retail industry. Due to a lack of inventory for retailers, shoppers turn to gift cards instead of purchases for physical items.
Since gift cards are untraceable, there are no approaches customers can take to receive money back. Gift card scams include scammers telling customers to pay a certain fee to avoid trouble with the government.
Typically, scammers will pose as a close family member or friend. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of shoppers and businesses to watch for these types of scams.
Online gift exchanges
A popular trend happening on social media is exchanging fake gifts among family and friends. The BBB is warning people of a gift exchange scam promising participants several dozen gifts in exchange for sending one gift.
These gifts may include purchasing a small item that costs less than $10. Furthermore, the scammers ask for personal information such as names, addresses and emails.
It may be fun for people to join in on these exchanges. However, the BBB validates this as an illegal pyramid scheme to phish people for personal information and steal their identities.
Fake temporary holiday jobs
While the holidays are the busiest times of the year, retailers will hire temporary workers for extra help. For ordinary people, this can be an excellent opportunity to earn additional funds during the holiday season.
However, scammers will take advantage of this by asking job applicants to pay for supplies, training fees and applications. Likewise, people will find job postings asking applicants to work for free.
Verify before purchasing
Perpetrators will make scams look legitimate by adapting to recognizable names, email addresses and local area codes. The information will be familiar enough to trick people into thinking these scams are authentic.
Customers who are unsure where they’re sending their money can verify the business through the Better Business Bureau. The BBB has a database for people to keep track of scams online. Consumers can also verify firms with the bureau by crosschecking ratings of BBB-accredited and non-credited businesses.
Remedy for online scams
As an online shopper who has fallen victim to online scamming, take action immediately to remedy the situation. Contacting the bank and asking for the transaction to be canceled will help get the money back.
However, if the transaction already fell through, it may be too late to stop it. In some cases, consumers can still verify to see if they can get their money back.
The next step is to file a report with the BBB to help protect others from falling victim to the same scams. Additionally, consumers can freeze their credit reports if personal identification has been compromised. Doing so will prevent scammers from opening accounts in their name, and the entire process is free.
In summary, online consumers should be wary of every possibility regarding online scams. If someone thinks an individual is conducting fraud, they should verify the business through the Better Business Bureau. However, customers can send reports to the BBB to ensure others avoid the same practices if it’s too late.
Lastly, to learn more about managing cyber risk in a rapidly changing world, please join us at the premiere cyber security event of the year – CPX 360 2022. Register here.