By Guest Contributor

Online shopping was already on the rise, but the pandemic has cemented it as the go-to shopping option for many of us. Scammers have followed us online and have constructed many ways to deceive us into sharing money or sensitive personal information.

How It Works

  • An online ad promotes great prices for in-demand products — including personal protective equipment and N95 masks in addition to top brand products.
  • Someone in your social network (such as on Facebook) posts about an amazing online sale that they just got great deals on.
  • You get an email or text with a link to take you to an absolutely outstanding deal.

What You Should Know

  • Scammers are behind all of this with the singular goal of stealing from you through coercing you to share sensitive information or by introducing malicious software onto your device to harvest your logins and other credentials.
  • Scammers are better than ever at creating legitimate-looking emails and websites, often even cloning legitimate online shopping sites and marketplaces.
  • You may get an actual product, but it will likely be an inferior version of what you were seeking.

What You Should Do

  • Shop online with stores you trust — shopping via search engine or as a response to an online ad, email or social post is a risky proposition (and a sad state for stores that deserve to earn your trust that you haven’t yet done business with).
  • It’s always a good idea to type in a web address yourself, versus clicking a link to what you think is a website you trust. If you get an email from Amazon, for example, rather than clicking the link, access your account online the way you normally would.
  • Engage your inner skeptic more than you would like to; it’s a sad state of affairs, but until the collective we figure out how to stop this criminal activity, protecting ourselves comes first.

Source: AARP Fraud Watch Network