Tips to avoid being scammed this holiday season

Happy Holidays

(WTAJ) — It’s a tale as old as time — from faking injuries to fraud and counterfeit — scams have been around for ages and continue to evolve with us.

As technology advances, it makes these culprits harder to spot as they keep perfecting their “game” but there are some tips and tricks to spot some of these unscrupulous sites and scammers.

Below are examples of types of scams to be on the lookout for as the holiday season continues on:

The Bait and Switch– When retailers advertise lower prices but actually sell them for a higher cost.

Skimming Devices– Machines placed on gas pumps or ATMs to capture data from the magnetic stripe on the back of credit and debit cards. Most devices, from ATMs to gas pumps are extremely sturdy. Don’t be afraid to pull or push on a card reader or keypad. If they’re loose, look different than the rest of the machine, or other machines, you should alert an employee and choose another machine if available.

Cybersquatting Sites– Scammers that try to impersonate well-known websites by creating one that looks very similar. Even something as simple as turning a URL into .net or .org, scammers can set up a website to make it look like you’re on a legit site, such as Spencer’s or Hot Topic, for example. Always double-check your URL. When in doubt, you can Google search the site you are looking for and results will bring up the real one.

Security Certificates– make sure the website you are on starts with “https” and also has a small padlock icon next to the webpage address. HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. The keyword in that is “SECURE” any site without that ‘s’ may have a risk associated with it. Even if you only type “walmart.com” into your web browser, as the page loads, you’ll see it convert to https://www.walmart.com.

Retailers Who Request Payment through Wire Transfer-Legitimate online businesses will not use wire transfers to collect payment for purchases.

Paying with Gift Cards – No matter how legitimate it may sound, no legitimate online business, or state officials for that matter, are going to ask you to buy a certain amount in gift cards and read them the number on the back. As soon as someone asks for payment via gift cards, that’s your sign to walk away.

Speaking from experience, don’t be alarmed if you go to a store like Best Buy for a large number of last-minute gift cards and the person at the register calls for a manager. It’s for your own protection as many companies train their management and employees to spot possible gift card scams to help protect you, the customer.

While there’s a world of shady scammers out there among us, these are just a few tips to keep yourself safe from possibly losing big money this holiday season.

If you feel that you have been scammed, you’re encouraged to reach out to your local law enforcement and you can even file a complaint to your state’s Attorney General’s office. For Pennsylvania, you can do that by clicking here.

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