New Yorkers Beware: Cyber Monday Scams Lurking on Biggest Online Shopping Day

New Yorkers Beware: Cyber Monday Scams Lurking on Biggest Online Shopping Day

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Nov. 21, 2012

AARP Advises How to Avoid Falling Prey to Online Shopping Scams

NEW YORK, Nov. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Cyber Monday has emerged in
recent years as a convenient way to get great holiday shopping deals from the
comfort of your home and avoid having to brave the crowds on Black Friday or
rise before daybreak to save money on those must-have gifts.

However, buyer beware. Scams abound online, and Cyber Monday is a time to be
particularly vigilant about protecting yourself from becoming a victim of
online theft. AARP's consumer expert, Sid Kirchheimer offers tips on how to
shop safely at home on Cyber Monday.

Surfing for gifts in cyberspace can be risky, courtesy of copycat websites
that shoppers sometimes visit inadvertently after typing the name of that
sought-after item into a search engine.

Although legitimate online retailers pop up on the screen, so do
"cybersquatters," bogus businesses that steal or alter the Internet addresses
of well-known companies to launch copycat sites.

Some are simply fronts for scammers to collect shoppers'credit card numbers.
Others actually sell things, but their "incredible deals," if delivered at
all, are usually poorly made knockoffs.

How to Shop Safely Online

  oWhen you click through to a website, carefully read the domain name — the
    Internet address — that appears at the top of your browser. Beware of any
    site whose name has even the slightest change from a legitimate online
    retailer's — extra words or letters, misspellings — and anything but the
    usual .com or .org ending.
  oMake sure that addresses of ordering pages always begin with "https://"
    instead of "http://." The "s" means it is secure.
  oPay attention to disclosures at the bottom of the page. Most legitimate
    online retailers have a "Contact Us" page with a phone number and physical
    address, and a "Terms and Conditions" link detailing return policies and
    such. Bogus websites may lack these pages or have them but not tell you
    what you need to know.
  oAvoid any website that doesn't provide a physical address, which you can
    verify by looking up the company on the Internet, or a phone number. Scam
    sites often allow only for e-mail correspondence, which makes for better
    hiding in cyberspace. If a phone number is listed, call it to ensure it's
    not a fax machine or voicemail with no live operator — two more red flags
    for a potential scam.
  oWatch for "scammer grammar." Although legitimate retailers may not
    moonlight for Webster's dictionary, their websites tend to be absent of
    the frequent misspellings and grammatical errors of the websites, ads and
    e-mail of scammers, who are often foreigners with poor command of English
    or fly-by-nights with little time to spell-check while trying to stay one
    step ahead of the law.
  oReject any requests for wire transfer payment. It's the quickest way to
    lose money, especially if it's sent overseas. Legit online retailers
    accept credit cards, which offer you more protection than debit
    transactions if you need to dispute payment.
  oDon't believe sob stories. Beware of "act now" offers that tell you the
    seller is a soldier needing cash for possessions before deploying to a war
    zone or a recent divorcee wanting to unload her former husband's
    belongings. These tactics are often bait to empty your wallet; the items
    typically don't exist.
  oResearch the prices. Similar items typically fall into a general price
    range. If one being offered to you falls way below that range, you need to
    ask yourself why. The usual answer: Scammers use ridiculously low prices
    to lure consumers into a bogus bargain.
  oBe on guard at online auctions. Lost the winning bid on eBay or another
    auction website? Don't be taken in by follow-up e-mails offering the same
    deal. Scammers often cruise online auction sites to pounce on losing
    bidders and direct them away from those secure buying environments.

The tips are courtesy of AARP contributing writer and scam expert Sid
Kirchheimer, the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP

AARP has over 2.7 million members in New York.

Follow us on Twitter: @AARPNY and Facebook: AARP New York

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Contact: David Irwin, +1-202-230-4685,, or Chaunda Ball,
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