Cyber Monday – Beware of Bogus Offers

The biggest shopping period of the year is almost upon us and that means we need to be extra careful.

Why? Because Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping is all about getting the “deals”. Unfortunately – when we think we’ve scored a great deal, we’re vulnerable to dropping our guard, and that’s when bad stuff happens.

Two of the biggest dangers for online shoppers are counterfeit merchandise and fake websites. Making a website “look” legitimate is not difficult in this day and age. It’s often tough for anyone to sort out the bad from the good so here are a few warning signs to be on the lookout for.

• Prices far below what is normal. This is particularly the case on normally high priced items such as UGG boots and Coach purses. Both items are frequent targets for counterfeiters and online hucksters.
• Prices posted in a foreign language
• Websites that don’t show a point of contact for consumers other than a generic email address.
• Descriptions of items or the website itself are written in broken English.

Many bogus and counterfeit sites are operating from Eastern Europe or Asia, making it difficult or impossible for law enforcement in the US to police the threat. To give yourself the best chance to get a legitimate deal, follow these simple steps.

• Only shop with sellers you are familiar with.
• Don’t “click” on bulk emails from unknown senders claiming great deals.
• Know the going price of an item you want by checking it on trusted sites like Amazon.com so you’ll know when a price is unrealistic.
• Before you enter your credit card info check out the site by searching for complaints or reviews posted by other shoppers. Use Google or your favorite search engine or go to online complaint sites.
• If you’re really unsure, search out the information from a websites registration at Network Solutions – http://www.networksolutions.com – overseas addresses and anonymous registrations are normally a good indication that you might want to steer clear.

Use common sense when shopping online. If the pair of shoes you desire never sell for less than $200 and you find them offered for $40 (and it’s not some time-limited door buster from a well-established retailer) it’s most likely too good to be true.

Finally – use a credit card for all online purchases so you’ll have some recourse in the event you do get scammed and NEVER allow the website to “save” your credit card information. Our son Matt, has “one credit card” he uses strictly for online purchases and there are many credit card companies now that allow you to make an individual purchase using a temporary credit card number generated for that specific online transaction.

Here’s a link to additional information on how to protect yourself while shopping online:
http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/internet_fraud/internet_fraud

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