GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) Cyber Monday is one of the most popular shopping days of the year.
According to the Better Business Bureau, in 2018, Americans spent a record-breaking $7.9 billion on online purchases on Cyber Monday.
But, with the great deals of the day comes some risk including internet scams.
Scamming is a $50 billion per year industry and affects one in four households in the United States, according to Alyssa Parker of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Eastern North Carolina.
The BBB has some tips to help you stay safe while online shopping today and every day.
“We want to urge consumers, just be aware of those fake advertisements and those phony websites that are out there,” said Alyssa Parker, the Director of Communications for the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina. “A lot of times scammers will try to duplicate a real website and entice people to come and supposedly shop on there, but it’s not a real website and they’re taking that personal information and credit card numbers and taking money from people.”
Being aware while shopping is the best way to avoid internet scams and if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Parker says if you see an ad for a specific website, don’t just click it and start shopping. Go to the actual website for the store and ensure the deal is real.
“Oftentimes a legitimate website is going to have that same deal on their actual website. If you see something on social media, that same offer should be available on the actual website,” said Parker.
There are a couple of ways to ensure the website you’re visiting is secure. First, look for https:// in the URL. The ‘S’ stands for secure.
Another way to look for a secure website is to look for the lock icon next to the URL.
Another tip is to use a credit card when online shopping instead of a debit card.
Parker says using a credit card gives you more protection and it’s easier to dispute false charges and get your money back.
The BBB has a website called Scam Tracker which keeps track of the most common scams, internet, phone, and mail, within any given area.
“It has an interactive map of all the scams happening in North America,” said Parker. “It can zoom in on specific area code and let you…you can read a description of the scam as well as see how much money people have lost.”
Knowing what scams are happening in your area can allow you to avoid getting caught up in one.
“The best protection that you can have against scams and people trying to steal your money is education,” said Parker.
If you do find that you’ve been the victim of an internet scam, the best thing to do is to freeze the card, contact your bank and dispute the charges. It’s likely that the compromised credit or debit card will need to be deactivated to ensure no one can use it further.
For more details on scams, click here.