Billions of dollars are spent during the annual lineup of designated shopping and giving days that follow Black Friday. Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday have exploded in growth, and scammers are well-aware of the uptick.
“This is an exciting time for everyone: Businesses, charities and consumers,” said BBB Regional President and CEO Jim Hegarty. “Unfortunately, scammers want to be a part of the process as well. There are surefire signs of a scam to make note of if you want to ensure your experience, whether buying or giving, goes according to plan.”
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has an overview of tips and advice for Cyber Monday shoppers and for those who plan to help worthwhile charities on Giving Tuesday.
GET THE MOST OUT OF CYBER MONDAY
The National Retail Federation’s early November survey reported that 62.8 million consumers plan to shop online on Nov. 29, the Monday following Thanksgiving. Many of these consumers are motivated by low prices, but there’s an additional reason to take part this year: supply chain disruptions that are likely to impact the holidays. Regardless of motivation, there are important considerations to be aware of.
• False advertising and phony websites can not only diminish a shopping experience, but also lead to a fraudulent one. If a consumer sees the hot item of the year at an unrealistically low price, that deal is probably too good to be true. Payment for such an item could result in a delivery that ultimately never comes. Be sure the website is legitimate and not a lookalike site. To check, look carefully at the web address. Make sure that it contains the “s” in HTTPS; the “s” stands for secure. Other clues that it may not be a legitimate site include incorrect spelling, and illegitimate contact information and service numbers.
• Check any unfamiliar business at bbb.org, where you can find BBB Business Profiles.
• Keep antivirus software up to date. This is extra insurance against non-secure sites and pop-up phishing scams. All a scammer needs is someone to click on a link for them to install malware on a device, which allows them to steal personal information.
• Take the time to compare online prices. Factor in shipping costs!
• Pay with a credit card for easier resolution of potential disputes. Debit cards don’t provide that!
• Policies may be different for Cyber Monday bargains, so check return policies for specific items.
• Beware of unsolicited emails, texts, calls, and letters touting “great offers.” This is a favorite method of scammers on phishing expeditions.
GIVE CONFIDENTLY ON GIVING TUESDAY
The annual day designated for charitable donations first occurred in 2012. It has since resulted in more than a billion dollars of charitable contributions.
• Look up a charity at BBB’s website devoted to evaluating them: Give.org. Using 20 standards of accountability, those interested can learn about a charity’s effectiveness, reputation and transparency.
• Know the exact name of a charity to contribute to. Watch out for groups that may be trying to trick unsuspecting victims with a sound-alike name.
• Visit the charity’s direct website to learn of its mission, programs and measurable goals, as well as its accounts of accomplishments and finances.
• This time of year, there are many on-the-spot requests for charitable giving. With emotional appeals, they try to tug at heartstrings. Giving off-the-cuff is discouraged. Instead, it’s far safer to research the charity before deciding whether to give. Responsible organizations won’t mind the wait.
• If a tax deduction is desired, visit IRS.gov to be sure the organization is one that qualifies. There is a handy IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search Tool available.
For more information: If you have been scammed or even just received a call from a suspected scammer, visit BBB.org/scamtracker and report the incident. For answers to your questions regarding holiday shopping and charity scams, contact your BBB at 800-856-2417 or visit bbb.org.