Imagine Andy Williams singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and it may indeed be the most wonderful time of the year for many people, but it is not so wonderful if you have been scammed by cybercriminals who really do find the holiday shopping season to be the most wonderful time of the year – for them.  Many of us do much of our gift shopping online, which is a simple and convenient way to shop, particularly with stores so crowded during the holiday season.  Scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as artists are adept at constructing phony retail websites that appear to be legitimate.  In these websites, which sometimes are counterfeit sites of legitimate retailers, they offer popular products at extremely low prices.  However shopping at these bogus websites will only result in your credit or debit card information being stolen while you never get the product you ordered.

TIPS

If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Scammers always pick the most popular and expensive items to lure people into sending them money for goods that never are delivered. You may wish to restrict your shopping to well-known, legitimate retailers and even then, make sure you are actually on their websites and not that of a scammer.  You can do this by going to https://www.whois.com/whois/ where you can find out who actually owns the website where you are considering shopping.  If, for instance, the Target website you are considering using is registered as being owned by someone in Nigeria, you can be sure it is a scam.  You also can go to www.resellerratings.com/ for reviews about particular merchants to find out if they are legitimate.

Even when shopping on a website that you are sure is legitimate, it is important to remember that while your liability for fraudulent use of your credit card is limited by federal law to no more than $50, your liability for fraudulent use of your debit card which is tied to  your bank account is unlimited if you do not promptly discover and report the fraud so always use your credit card for shopping whether you are shopping online or offline.

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