Roanoke, VA (November 27, 2013) There’s a perfect storm on the horizon for Holiday travelers, but it’s nothing you’ll see on the Weather Channel. More than 120 million Americans are expected to hit the information superhighway for Cyber Monday, and scammers will be waiting with open arms at many of the exits. According to research firm IBISWorld, Cyber Monday is projected to have a 13.1% growth for $1.8 billion in sales. Nielsen estimates that 46% of consumers plan to participate on Dec. 2, 2013, which means it’s time to put together your Cyber Monday travel emergency kit.
“Shopping online can be incredibly convenient, but whenever you are making a online purchase you need to be a mindful guardian of your personal information,” said Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA.. “With so many great deals flooding the internet during the holidays, it’s essential to take the time to determine if you’re buying a gift for under the tree or just padding a scammer’s stocking.”
Here are some BBB tips on Cyber Monday shopping:
Protect your computer – A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.
Confirm that your online purchase is secure. Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, right-click anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This should let you see the actual URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal whether the site is not encrypted.
Pay with a credit card. Using a credit card is suggested because the shopper can dispute the charges if he/she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and some card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail. The BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
Be on the lookout for counterfeit websites and too-good-to-be-true deals:
- Free Gift Cards: Be wary of unsolicited texts or emails offering “contest winners” free gift cards. Responding to texts indicates that phone numbers are active and recipients will likely be spammed more.
- Bogus Coupons: Watch for fake downloadable coupons that could wreak havoc on computers and provide digital identity thieves with personal information.
- Exceptionally-Low Prices: Avoid too-good-to-be-true offers. Extremely low or unrealistic prices on in-demand or hard-to-find goods are a red flag that retailers may not be legitimate.
- Blurry or Distorted Photos: Ignore websites with lousy images. If images are unclear or skewed, it may indicate that they were hijacked and reused from other sources. Vendors of authentic products will provide clear, high-quality photos.
- Questionable Licensing: Shop elsewhere if background information cannot be verified. Reputable e-tailers will display contact information and have the proper licenses for the state where they claim to be located.
- Unsecure Payment Forms: Don’t enter personal data or pay on for purchases on unencrypted Web pages; secured sites will display “https” in the address bar.
- Privacy Policies: Don’t be careless with personal information. Only do business with websites that clearly outline how personal information will be handled and avoid companies that will sell that information to third-parties. Privacy policies should be easily accessible from website landing pages.
- Start with trust. Go to http://www.bbb.org and check out the business or to find a BBB Accredited Business you can trust and to make sure you are dealing with a reputable business that will guarantee the sale prices they claim to have.
For more advice on safe shopping, please visit www.bbb.org or contact the BBB Serving Western VA at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501.
The BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews on more than 4 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution service, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/BBB_WesternVA