The desire to purchase from home, to avoid crowds, virus exposure and long lines, have made online shopping even more popular.

It is estimated that in the United States alone, online purchases will exceed $740 billion by the end of 2023.

With this growing popularity comes fraud and criminal activity.  Fraudsters, criminals and scammers know a good thing when they see it and this is one bandwagon that many criminals are jumping onto.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), 38% of reported fraud, in the first seven months of 2020, involved online purchasing scams.

Some involved fake websites.  Other scams/thefts occurred as a result of social media ads or phony mobile apps.  Many offered “bargain basement” prices or difficult to find items.  Some fraudulent sites use logos and designs stolen from reputable corporations.

Pay attention!

Poor website design, incorrect spelling/grammar and prices “too good to be true” are just a few of the warning signs of a fraudulent site.

Missing contact information is another red flag.  There should always be a method of consumer contact when dealing with a reputable company.

Don’t assume a retail website is safe simply because it is encrypted. Many scam sites use encryption, indicated by a padlock icon or “https://” in front of the URL, to provide a false sense of security.

Lastly, always pay using a credit card.  While some credit cards have a liability limit, you are generally protected from fraud when using them.  Debit cards, however, do not offer this protection.