Learning Center Blog

5 Tips to Avoid Online Shopping Scams this Holiday

Patriot is dedicated to protecting your information and hard earned money by using proven technologies and security measures, however, the best defense against fraud is awareness. Consumers are expected to spend over $1 trillion during the holiday shopping season this year, so it is an especially pertinent time to brush up on the warning signs of possible fraudsters. Review these tips and be sure to stop and think before making any purchases from companies you aren’t familiar with.

Only shop on secure sites

First and foremost, never give out your credit or debit card information on a site that isn’t secure. If the URL does not start with “HTTPS” or have a closed padlock next to it, the site isn’t secure. Also, only make purchases on private, secured wireless networks. Public and unsecured networks can be easily hacked.

Check the reviews and social media pages

If it isn’t a company you’re familiar with, always check the reviews and comments. Google the company and see if they have any reviews there, on social media, or on any industry sites. If there are no reviews or no mention of the company at all, it is probably not a legitimate company. It goes without saying that if you find lots of bad reviews and comments saying the site is a scam, people never got their packages, and so on, the company is not trustworthy. Also be wary of reviews that are all wonderful. Some scammers will create fake accounts and write reviews to trick potential victims. It’s best to see a mix of good and not-so-good reviews and comments to verify authenticity. If you do find a site or social media page that has all good reviews, check around to a few other review sites and social media platforms to find additional reviews.

Review the grammar in the site copy

How is the grammar on the site? Do you see lots of typos and incorrectly written sentences? A legitimate, trustworthy site should use proper English. If lots of sentences don’t make sense, this is a warning sign that the sight is illegitimate.

Does the offer make sense?

Does the offer seem too good to be true? If so, it probably is. For instance, if a site is offering $495 worth of tools for two “low payments” of $19.99, it’s probably a scam.

Look for contact information on the site

If you can find an address, phone number, and email address on the website, this is a good sign that the site is legitimate. Go to Google Maps and try to verify that the address is not some abandoned warehouse and that it belongs to the company you think it should. Try calling the phone number and see if you are connected to a customer service representative. If a site is illegitimate, it usually won’t have any contact information so that you have nowhere to seek assistance after you’ve been scammed.

If you think you’ve been scammed using your Patriot debit or credit card, we can help. Call our contact center at 888-777-9982 or visit any of our branches and we will help you secure your account and possibly recoup your losses. Patriot is committed to protecting you and your information, especially during the holiday season when online shopping (and scamming) is at its annual high.