Holidays are fast approaching, as many are gearing up to start shopping. While COVID-19 is still an ever-present concern, some will look to online shopping to purchase their holiday needs. The Sheriff’s Office wants you to not only have a merry but also safe holiday season.  Here are some tips to help you spot online shopping fraud, as well as what to do if you happen to fall victim to an online scam. 

Support your local businesses when possible, many have been impacted by the pandemic. Check with your favorite local shops to see if items are available. Many companies offer curbside pickup if you feel uncomfortable shopping in the store.

Things to look out for when shopping online:

Shop with familiar companies: Use the actual URL of the company rather than clicking through in search results. Many companies will mask their page information to look like the company. 

Many of these sites are advertised on popular social media outlets and search engines when looking for a specific item. 

Check before you Check out

1. Is the website secure? You should see a padlock next to the website address. Websites that are unsecure leave your information open. 

2. Check the shipping and return policy. Retail stores are starting early due to projected delays with the mail. Make sure your item will arrive in time and if there is an issue review their return policy.

3. If you find an item on an unknown website, look to see if the item is also available on a website you are more familiar with. 

Know what you are buying: 

You want to ensure that the product description and price are comparable across multiple sites. Be wary of significantly discounted items. Read the fine print for the things that are labeled as “refurbished,” “vintage,” or “close-out” as the maybe in less than mint condition. 

Protect your information:  

Do not email financial information, including your social security number. If you begin a transaction, ensure that there is an “s” at the end of the web address (HTTPS:) as the “s” stands for secure. However, some fraudulent sites have forged security icons. 

When possible, pay by credit card as the Fair Credit Billing Act protects your transaction. This act puts a temporary hold on the charges while the creditor investigates potential fraud. You must keep all records regarding the transaction, including the invoice and receipt with product description and price and any emails from the seller. Look over your credit card and bank statements carefully for any unauthorized transactions.

If possible, pay with PayPal as there are additional security and protection features involved in the transaction. 

What should you do if you are a victim of online fraud?

You should:

Contact your financial institution to dispute the charges.

File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission

Contact the Oklahoma Attorney General

File a report with your local law enforcement office.