Holiday Shopping Tips Consumers Should Know

A top down angle of three people sitting on a couch, pointing at prices and products on a laptop.

It’s almost that time of the year again: Black Friday. With the holidays around the corner and increasing e-commerce sales, consumers take to online stores to shop for gifts. But as online shopping becomes more prevalent, so too do scams. With millions of people partaking in this timely tradition, the Shub Law Firm encourages you to heed these precautions. Ensure you’re not the one being scammed this holiday season.

How to Spot a Scam

Department stores can be chaotic throughout the holidays! Remember the scamming Santas from Jingle all the Way? With more people shopping online, scammers take to the world wide web to find new victims. Being an informed shopper, or at least knowing what to look out for, can prevent you from being that victim.

A lively plaza full of vendors and customers shopping during the winter time.

Be wary of the websites you visit. Many shoppers are finding deals on social media and coming across advertisements for cheap luxury products. If it’s too good to be true, it likely is. Buying cheaper products from smaller sites that are less expensive than on reputable sites come with their own price. Often, that product is so cheap because the vendor is fraudulent or shouldn’t be trusted. Take the time to do your own research on the site you’re visiting. If it seems too sketchy to justify saving a few dollars, perhaps reconsider buying from this site.

Some vendors create misleading websites that contain “stellar” reviews for cheap products. While we encourage shoppers to research the products they purchase, it is also important to make sure the research is legit. Scanning for subjective details across multiple reviews on the same product can separate trusted reviews from fake ones. These details often show how a customer feels about the product they purchased. If you see various short reviews with similar, non-descript language, it likely means they were written by the same person or organization. This is typically done to boost the rating of the product to trick real consumers into buying.

Consumers should also keep in mind the most obvious form of scamming: phishing. Scammers love to send texts and emails about “insanely good deals!” Around the holidays, it is more likely that fraudsters will impersonate big time vendors like Amazon.com or even your favorite department store. Fraudsters will even impersonate delivery companies like UPS or FedEx by sending you text alerts about your package. It is important that you never click on a link attached to these texts or emails. To ensure the safety of your package and your own private information, search for the company’s contact information yourself and reach them directly.

Staying Safe on the Internet

It’s beneficial to know what scams look like, but consumers should also take precautions into their own hands. While some states have laws to protect misled consumers, these laws are not in place throughout the country. Public officials, like New York Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez, encourage users to protect themselves wherever they can, especially online. Here are a few things you can do to ensure you navigate the web safely and securely.

  • Shop on Trusted sites. Though big-name brands like Best Buy, Amazon.com, or Target can sell expensive products, shopping with them often comes with a sense of reassurance. If you are worried of being scammed this holiday season, stick to what you know.
  • Read the terms of service and company policies. Take it from a group of attorneys, the fine print is tedious and overwhelming. But if you have reservations about shopping at an online store you’ve never

purchased from, it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into. Sometimes, smaller companies don’t offer refunds, don’t guarantee the product will come on time, and even admit that the product may not come as advertised. What’s worse? The terms of service say it’s legally not their fault. It’s good to know who you’re purchasing from and what purchases you’re binding yourself to.

  • Be careful when sharing your credit card information. Even with the most reputable retailers, it is a good idea to make sure your credit card information is secure. Make sure you are on an encrypted site, indicated by the “https” in the url or the small lock beside it. Limit the number of cards you use online to just one. Because there are laws surrounding credit card fraud, you can safely dispute any fraudulent transactions you know you didn’t make. Limiting yourself to one credit card also makes it easy to review your purchases after a long weekend of shopping.

    Finally, take your time. Black Friday weekend, and holiday shopping in general, is so fast paced. You might be worried that something may go out of stock before you’re able to buy it. However, a quick and impulsive purchase may flush you down a watershed of spam and fraudulent transactions. Keep that product in your cart and take the time to read reviews and examine other sites for similar products.

Good To Go!

Holiday shopping is always risky. Rarely will an eager shopper let a good Black Friday sale or Cyber Monday deal go by without taking advantage of it. But sometimes being too quick on the draw can leave you with a whole mess of complications. Be careful this holiday season. Make sure you keep your information safe, and shop with reassurance!

If you find yourself being scammed by a fraudulent site or a misleading vendor, contact Shub Law today to hear what you can do remedy your situation.

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