Police are reminding shoppers to use common sense and to be safe when shopping online this holiday season.
“Especially at this time of year when we’re putting more into our spending than we normally would. We’re always looking for a good deal, or something new, or something unique,” said Cpl. Jennifer Cooper of the Prince George RCMP.
“Unfortunately, sometimes that can lead us to make some fraudulent purchases, not fraudulent on our part, but fraudulent on the website’s part.”
Cooper says shoppers should be looking out for the following things when buying something online:
Watch out for deals that are “too good to be true”
“If it seems way out of left field, that price is what it is or the offer is just incredibly amazing, maybe take a glance at some competing websites to see if it is too good to be true, and we should be hesitating and going back to a website we recognize.”
Complicated or unfamiliar payment options
“We definitely have payment options that are more familiar to us as online shoppers. If this is something new that you’ve never seen before, maybe stray back to a different website.”
Sites with poor grammar or layouts
“Our trusted websites put a lot of money into making sure their layouts and grammar are all correct.”
No padlock in the URL bar
“If that’s not there, or if it’s unlocked, that’s a signal the website isn’t secure and you should definitely be spending your money, especially if you’re putting in credit card information or banking information, on a website where that padlock gets locked or is secure.”
Cooper added there are some tips to buying thing used from websites such as the Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji as well.
Make it a local purchase if possible
“That way you can arrange to meet the person in a neutral spot, a parking lot. We always welcome people to come and park outside the detachment, we don’t have 24-hour surveillance, but at least if something seems a little bit out of the ordinary or your gut is off, you can come inside to where we have police officers to help check stuff out.”
Look at the seller’s rating and look up the seller’s name
“Make sure that Facebook name or that user name hasn’t been reported on other websites as making fraudulent sales.”
Cooper said anyone who has been a victim of online fraud should report it on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Website.
“If you’re thinking of making a purchase online and you’re not familiar with the website, because it’s not one of our key retailers, you can always check out the Canadian Anti-Fraud Website,” Cooper said.
“They have lots of holiday resources about holiday scams and frauds right now, that you can double-check the website that you’re shopping from, or other frauds and scams that typically pop up this time of year.”