Pharos-Tribune

Editorials

December 1, 2013

OUR VIEW: Shop smart on Cyber Monday

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. At least that’s what they say.

But sometimes, when retailers are making their huge holiday sales push, the unbelievably great deals are in fact true. You can stand in their place of business and you can examine the merchandise in your hands to be sure it’s what they say it is. You can verify you’re not getting ripped off before you pay.

But come the Monday after Thanksgiving — Cyber Monday as it’s called — online shoppers will be faced with those too-good-to-be-true deals without the luxury of examining the product in question. These deals often don’t come with the benefit of a brick-and-mortar establishment.

And while Cyber Monday has evolved into the busiest online shopping day of the year, it comes fraught with increased risks of fraud. That fraud takes on many forms, whether it be loss of money, receipt of counterfeit goods, fraudulent credit card transactions or identity theft.

You are the only thing that can stop you from being a victim of Cyber Monday.

“Like all technology, online shopping offers benefits and risks,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says. “Online shopping offers convenience and information for comparison shopping, but consumers should do their homework before sharing credit card information online.”

This homework becomes especially critical around the holiday shopping season.

Criminals use a variety of traps amidst the convenience of the online shopping environment, including suspicious offers or communications. Fraud schemes are often associated with products or gift cards being sold for dramatically reduced prices; “one day only” websites, offering sales on high-demand items; and “phishing” emails, text messages, or phone calls that purport to come from established and well-known retailers, seeking shoppers to verify credit card numbers, bank accounts, or detailed personal information.

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