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Scams to watch for and tips on how to lower your chances of being defrauded


Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliott knows that with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on, many people are more comfortable shopping at home than going to crowded stores. E-commerce sales are forecasted to grow significantly during the 2020-2021 holiday season. While those number may look great for online retailers, they also look good for those seeking to scam online shoppers.

"Do not click on links in emails"
You may get a message that looks like it is from PayPal or some other well-known company, notifying you that there is a problem with your account. If it is from a scammer, and you enter your username and password, Scammers will then save the information and transfer your money to a foreign account. The rule is that you should never click on any suspicious links that may be in an email.

"Urgent" emails
Any email that proclaims a great sense of urgency such as "immediate action required", "Urgent", or "before time runs out" is a red flag and will likely lead to phishing. Phishing is a fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies to get someone to reveal personal information, including passwords and credit card numbers. Things having to do with the holidays and/or COVID-19 are perfect excuses for urgent replies.

"Too good to be true"
There is that old saying if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If an email is sent to you from a company that has a subscription service, for instance, and they are offering you a free subscription, that should be a red flag. Before clicking on any link, you should look to see where that link is taking you.

If you put your cursor over the link on a website and hold it there, down at the bottom left of the screen, the destination of the website will appear. In an email it will typically appear in a box near the link, when you hold the cursor over it.
It is important to see what the URL is because, for example, if you think you're going to Amazon's website but the link actually says, then you know scammers are trying to obtain your information.

"Emails or websites asking for private information"
Remain vigilant for any request from an email or on a website that wants you to submit some sort of private information, such as a password, a credit card or bank card number, social security number, your address, your voter affiliation, etc.

"Watch out for fake websites"

It is not difficult to setup as a reseller on Amazon and some resellers will market their fake websites on legitimate ones like Amazon and eBay. They will sell something in high demand like a bicycle at a low price. Everything looks fine, but then you never receive the product. If you don't know what the website is, you should never order from it.

If the buyer delays shipping information that it is a red flag to cancel the purchase. PayPal and other payment systems have time frames of about 60 to 90 days for you to cancel a purchase. If the seller delays and delays past the allotted time then never sends the package, then the seller has your money, and you don't have your purchase. Buying insurance through PayPal, Visa, and Apple Pay can help protect you against shipping scams as it gives you more time to dispute payments.

Tips to help you shop safely during this holiday season

1. Do a little comparison shopping. Some sellers have been known to sell for example a $30 item on Ebay and when someone purchases it they then buy the item and ship it for free through Amazon for $20. While it is not a scam and is legal, it shows the importance of comparison shopping. One way to compare items is to search for the item on Google to see where else you can purchase it.

2. Never pay for anything on the internet with a debit card because thieves can wipe out all the money in that account.

3. Know your credit card limits. Credit card companies can bump your limit up without you ever knowing it. Fraudsters can then keep using your card regardless of the limit and you might have thousands of dollars on your card before you know it.

4. If you are going to order on the internet the best way to limit potential losses is to obtain insurance on your credit card to limit potential fraud. You can also get a prepaid credit card from a grocery store, pharmacy, or a bank so that if you are a victim of fraud you lose no more money than what was on the card.

5. If you are buying from a reseller on Amazon, eBay or Walmart, look to see where the seller is from. You may want to limit your purchases to buying items from sellers in the U.S.

6. Buy from reputable sellers.


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