1. Make sure the seller is legit. Use our guide to help you verify the legitimacy of unfamiliar online retailers. The top signs to look for include:
- A secure URL
- Customer reviews
- Public contact information with an actual address.
- A transparent return policy
2. Make purchases with a credit card. Credit cards add a layer of protection between your actual money and the scammers. Many credit cards come with fraud protection that will help cancel unauthorized payments and recover any funds taken by fraud. See if your credit card company provides a virtual number that you can use. These numbers are often temporary, so a criminal can’t reuse them, and they can make it easier to track down where fraudulent charges are coming from.
3. Take your time. That’s right—it’s not life or death here. Retailers know how to tap into our frantic holiday panic, and so do scammers. But you don’t have to buy now. You can wait—good deals tend to pop up over the course of the holiday season and beyond. Sometimes, the best deal isn’t even on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. So If you’re feeling pressure to buy, buy, buy—don’t. Step away, take a break, and check back tomorrow.
4. Be skeptical of social media advertisements and “stores.” More people are buying through social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, but this is the perfect environment for scammers. They try to reel in users by advertising high-demand items for ridiculous deals. Before you click on one of these too-good-to-be-true ads, do some research. Verify that the store is legit before buying.