BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend is wrapping up but not before Cyber Monday, and while those deals make opening your wallet a little easier experts say shoppers should be on the lookout for scams.
The National Retail Federation reports it expected nearly two million more people than last year to shop through Cyber Monday, where more than 62 million people are expected to shop online. The Better Business Bureau and local experts say online shopping comes with risks.
"A lot of times going with your gut if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is," Bradford Bowman said.
It's the time of year for holiday shoppers to pack department stores and scroll through online websites, but the holiday rush comes with scammers who prey on those wanting to find the best deals.
"A lot of those scams are designed for one purpose and that purpose is to obtain your personal information and that will then later be sold on the dark web to pretty much the highest bidder," Bowman said.
According to the Better Business Bureau, online scams make up more than a third of all scam reports filed with the bureau, and four out of five consumers report they lost money.
Bradford Bowman with Bowman Technology group says here in Kern County, he's seen an increase in social media and pandemic-related scams.
“The average price of a decent tablet that kids can play with apps on would be anywhere from about $100 to $150, so if you see an Instagram post advertising a tablet for $10.99 plus free shipping well that just doesn’t make much sense," Bowman said.
The Better Business Bureau says you can avoid falling victim by following these tips:
1. Beware of false advertisements and phony websites
2. Shop on secure sites only
3. Keep your antivirus software up to date
4. Price check before you buy
5. Use your credit card instead of debit card
6. Avoid temporary holiday jobs and free gift cards
7. Be on the lookout for fake shipping notifications
8. Lookout for puppy scams and request to see the dog in person before sending money.
Bowman says falling victim can lead to identity theft. He says if you're not sure about the legitimacy of the business, look for contact information and make sure if matches the business name.
“Are they using a Hotmail or are they using a Gmail because those would be things that should send up red flags because that provides the scammer a way of hiding behind the veil of some of these free email services," Bowman said.
Bowman says if you do take the chance with buying online:
“I would go with protecting your credit card by using some well-known payment methods like PayPal, that is a great way of paying because they have their own policies in regards to refunds and if you do get scammed you can file a claim with PayPal to get your money back," Bowman said.
If you think you may have spotted a business or offer that sounds like a scam, the Better Business Bureau invites you to report it through their website, you can click through this map and track scams reported in your area so you don't also fall victim.