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» How to Avoid Holiday Internet Scams

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The holidays are expected to be times filled with meaning and joy, but sentimental feelings can evaporate in the cold reality of a holiday internet scam. Here are several ways to avoid scams this holiday season.

Shop What You Know

Businesses off all kinds, especially small businesses like Grants Pass Family Dental, spend a lot of time and money to gain and keep both your business and your trust. Legitimate businesses have a lot to lose if their customers are unhappy with products and services. Place online orders through well-established companies that have gained your trust and have easily identifiable phone numbers, both physical and email addresses, payment policies, and instructions regarding any returns you may need to make regarding holiday purchases.

Do Your Research

Just because a website is selling something doesn’t mean that the business is legitimate. According to Scambusters, one of the biggest scams this holiday season are the websites where iPads or other tablets are “only $99,” which would be a great deal compared to the $500 regular price for these kinds of electronics. However, these websites are almost always fronts for scams, and people who pay $99 receive nothing in return. Before making a questionable purchase, check out the company by doing an internet search and checking with the Better Business Bureau.

Shop Secure

Legitimate businesses focus on providing a secure shopping experience for customers. Before shopping and placing an online order, check that the “http” in URL is followed by the letter “s,” which indicates that the website is secure. Avoid signing in or creating an account with a merchant so that your payment information isn’t stored for an indeterminate amount of time.

There are security measures that you can personally take in order to shop safely online. Use a separate credit card that is specifically used to make online purchases and isn’t tied to a bank account. Another payment option is to use a third-party organization for payment, such as Paypal, to keep another layer of separation between you and online merchants.

Keep Information Private

Occasions that require you to give out personal information are rare. One scam is a carefully-worded email from UPS that asks for personal information in order for you to pick up a package – however, there is no package and the email is phishing for information. If a company emails or calls you and asks for personal or financial information, such as birth date, social security number, and credit card numbers, refuse to give out this information, then delete the email or hang up the phone.

Go on the offense to keep your information to yourself this holiday season. Planning a vacation or heading to Grandma’s house for winter break? Keep the news to yourself, sharing your excitement and pictures once you return. Letting everyone know that you’re going to be gone provides opportunities for burglars to take advantage of your absence. Go a little anti-social – especially on Facebook – until the beginning of January to avoid giving away too much private information.

Anti-Social Media

With smart phones rocketing to popularity, more companies have begun using QR codes to advertise to and interact with consumers. However, scammers have created QR codes with malware, which compromises the security of your smart phone. To avoid long-term damage, make sure the security software on your smart phone is updated before scanning your next QR code.

Another scam tactic involves scammers posting carefully worded and holiday-themed messages on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. “This scam is disappointing,” said Donald J. Lanahan, DMD, a Dentist in Grants Pass, Oregon, “especially since we like to send fun holiday greetings to our Facebook fans and business supporters.”

These messages could contain harmful viruses that cause damage to your computer – if you see a sweet holiday message, think twice before clicking on it and make sure you know who is sending it your way!

Go With Your Gut

If an online deal seems just too good to be true, there’s a decent chance that your instincts are right. One of the great elements regarding online shopping is that you can wait awhile before pressing the “Place Order” button. Take some time to research the company and decide if shopping through this online venue is worth the money and the risk involved.

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