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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

5 ways to stay safe while shopping online this holiday season

Central Indiana BBB is warning consumers about a spike in online purchase scams.

INDIANAPOLIS — Between Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, we know a lot of shoppers are opting for a safer way to shop this year: online.  

According to a survey by NerdWallet, 7 out of 10 people plan to do most of their holiday shopping online this year.  

But shopping online can come with some risks, too.  

The Better Business Bureau serving Central Indiana is warning consumers this year about a spike in online purchase scams since COVID-19.

The BBB has been seeing an uptick in fake online websites tricking shoppers with low prices.  

“A lot of times, they show low prices on designer goods, like a Louis Vuitton purse for $100 or some very expensive electronic item for a very low price,” said Tim Maniscalo, president & CEO of the BBB serving Central Indiana.  

Maniscalo said about 80 percent of consumers who reported an online purchase scam in 2020 lost money, and he says these scammers are only getting better.  

So here is how to stay safe online this holiday season: 

Double-check the website or app

Make sure the website is not a duplicate or a fake version. To do so, look at the URL bar. Make sure it says “https.” Also, look for the lock icon to make sure the site is secure.  

Only use stores you trust

If you see an ad for something you like on Facebook or Instagram, try to avoid clicking on the direct link. Sometimes, it can take you to a fake website. Instead, look up the product and company yourself.

Beware of outrageous offers 

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers try to trick you with big discounts and great deals. Be wary, and check the site to make sure it’s not fake.  

Pay with a credit card

If you are on a secure site and find an item you like, it’s best to use a credit card to prevent fraud. It serves as an added safety measure since debit cards are connected directly to your checking account.

Avoid saving credit card information

Some online stores will ask if you want to save your credit card information. Experts say it is best not to do so. This will limit the chances of your information being stolen. You can also enable purchase alerts on all your credit cards or call your credit card company about any suspicious transactions.  

Keep an eye out for when your package should arrive

With more online orders this year, porch pirates are on the hunt. 

To help with that, you can always choose in-store pickup or even curbside pickup to avoid shipping all together.

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If you see a scam or were scammed, the BBB asks you to report it at the BBB.org/ScamTracker. Learn more about risky scams on BBB.org/ScamTips