Ahead of Cyber Monday shopping, Attorney General Jeff Landry is encouraging consumers to be mindful of the deals they take part in.
"Online shopping is a great way to avoid crowded stores on Black Friday; however, shoppers should be diligent in vetting websites to ensure their authenticity," said General Landry. "On Cyber Monday, and every day, it is important for consumers to practice safe online behavior and take the appropriate steps to protect themselves from scams."
In recent years, Cyber Monday has gained momentum as shoppers forego Thanksgiving and Black Friday deals and turn to the convenience of online shopping. Unfortunately, not all advertised deals are what they claim to be, and some websites may be phony or tools for scammers to take advantage. So General Landry is offering the following tips to Louisiana’s online shoppers:
Avoid online financial transactions while using public wireless networks. Do not conduct any transaction that involves personal, financial, or credit card information while using an open and unsecured Wi-Fi connection. Unsecured connections are common in public spaces such as stores, cafes, and coffee shops.
Look for a secure checkout. Make sure all online purchases are made on a secure website. To confirm a site is secure, check the URL address and make sure there is an “s” in https://. Then, check the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, right-click anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This should show the actual website address, and the dialog box will reveal whether or not the site is encrypted.
Pay with a credit card. Purchases made with a credit card provide the most protection. Using a credit card usually allows shoppers to dispute unauthorized charges or charges for items not received.
Watch out for look-alike websites. In a scam known as “cybersquatting,” crooks steal or slightly alter the website address of a well-known company to launch a copycat site that looks exactly like the real site. The primary function of these fraudulent websites is to collect your credit card information in order to steal your identity or to sell fake or inferior counterfeit goods.
Be wary of too-good-to-be-true contests and prize promotions. Consumers should be suspicious of any email, message, or post on social networks promoting giveaways or contests that seem too good to be true – such as free high-value gift cards, tablets, and smartphones. These “contests” are often scams designed to bilk consumers out of money and/or to collect consumers’ personal information for sale to other scammers.
Read the fine print. Broadly worded promotional offers and advertisements often mislead consumers into paying full price for items they believed were on sale. Consumers should carefully examine internet deals by reading any and all fine print in the promotional materials, identifying the exact brand and model number on sale.
Keep records. Always print and save records and/or receipts of your transactions.