I love to shop, and I love that the holidays give me an excuse to shop. Like many of us, I’ve been avoiding shopping in-store, in favor of online shopping. While scrolling through my emails to check on delivery dates so I can hide the gifts from my family, I noticed an email from Best Buy. I didn’t remember making a purchase with them, so I clicked on it. “Your purchase is ready for pick up!” the email read. I skimmed the rest of the email and it told me that my order was located at a store just a couple blocks away from Times Square. Not exactly a quick after-work errand!
I quickly panicked and checked the online statements for all of my cards. None showed any transactions with Best Buy. Knowing that sometimes charges don’t always show up right away, I got in touch with my credit card company. They confirmed that there was no attempted charge on my account, which means this was a different kind of scam. Instead of actually stealing my information, the scammer was either hoping I’d a) call the fake help number and freely give them my card info or b) click on the provided link so they could get information from my device.
While working for a financial institution, I’ve done multiple trainings on how to recognize various scams and phishing attempts but not everyone has access to this same information.
Here are some of my tips and tricks to recognizing shopping scams:
- Do your shopping from reliable websites – make sure to carefully read website domain names before clicking.
- Keep an eye on your accounts. Scammers are not always trying to get large amounts of money. If they can get $10 from 100 people, they’ve made $1,000. All in a day’s work! Smaller transactions are easier to overlook and less likely for the scammers to get caught.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. We all love a deal, but deals aren’t worth the hassle if a scammer gets your information.
Unfortunately, as we head into the holiday season, these types of scams will become more and more prevalent. Knowing the signs and knowing you can always reach out to your Credit Union can help keep your money safe this holiday season.