The one thing your BBB® has learned in our 103 years of existence, con artists will exploit any opportunity, be it a natural disaster, using a name similar to a reputable one, or exploiting a popular event like Mother’s Day to steal your money. Here are some tips to help keep you, your money, your identity, and Mom safe. Avoid googling things such as “Mother’s Day gifts” or “Valentine’s day ideas”. Cons know the most desirable gift items by looking for the most sought after keywords used on the Internet. Cyber-crooks will build fake websites containing the most desired items for sale at incredibly steep discounts. Once you have “made your purchase” you have downloaded malicious spyware onto your computer, compromising your PC and possibly your identity as well. Alternatively, if it’s not a virus, they’ll max out your credit card by selling you bogus, nonexistent products.
Be sure your computer is always loaded with the latest in virus and malware protection. Be leery of sites that have unsecured URLs such as http instead of HTTPS. Also, plan to make your purchases on one of the more well-known online shopping sites to ensure your identity and the health of your computer.
Bogus flower shops
The most bought item every Mother’s Day is a bouquet of flowers. Just a few days before, criminals set up fake online flower shops that look great, promote them with advertisements all over the Internet, and charge victims who are attracted by the cheap price. There are no flowers to be delivered and several victims just give their credit card numbers without proper research. A second variation is real companies that take online payments advertising small prices, but fill the final invoice with shipping charges that the consumer is not aware of. These extra payments bring the total cost to a sum higher than any other regular deal.
Always research the seller. You are not buying flowers every day, so don’t just jump into paying for the cheapest price without doing your homework. Look for reviews and testimonials. Don’t believe their own testimonials. Visit an online forum or two, check their Better Business Bureau rating and research their location.
Mother’s Day E-Card
Many people now send Mother’s day e-cards. As many mothers expect a card from their children, even online, many open their emails without taking a second look. These e-cards, which contain malware, will infect your computer. Do not open any emails saying “Your children sent you an e-card!”
If John sent you an e-card, the line should be more like: “John sent you an e-card”, not “your children”.
Fake Gift Cards
Some prefer giving their mom a gift card, so she can choose the gift perfect for her.
Con artists will offer gift cards to well-known retailers at unbelievably steep discounts through advertisements and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Once the victim has entered their information, criminals have all they need to steal their identity. The danger with these posts on social media is that people share with their friends and families the so-called “great deal”, without knowing that in a few minutes their credit card will be maxed out. Don’t purchase cards from pop-up ads or messages on Facebook or Twitter. Always go to the website of the retailer from whom you are purchasing the card to protect your identity.
Twitter Instant Deals
You post a tweet about a holiday gift you are trying to find. Within minutes, you receive a direct message, or are tagged by another user offering to sell you the item you are looking for. Unless you know the person that has messaged or tagged you, think twice before accepting any offers. If you do decide to take a chance, never pay up front for any item purchased this way.
Duplication of Known Websites
Cyber criminals will closely mirror well-known sites, then send e-mails promoting great deals. Once you shop on their site, merchandise never arrives, your credit cards have been compromised, and possibly your identity.
Whenever shopping online, make sure you are using only secure sites, indicated by the https:// in their web address. If the address begins with http://, steer clear. This is an unsecured site and your information could be compromised.
Mother’s Day Credit Card
Internet swindlers advertise pay-in-advance for credit cards. These e-mails, sent through spam, will advertise “Special this Mother’s Day: prequalified, super-low interest” credit cards and loans if you pay a processing fee up front. Whether borrowing money, claiming a prize, or performing work from home, “never pay money to receive money.” “NEVER!” Lenders should not ask for upfront money for credit. Always be wary of any unsolicited email offers. This is a major red flag.
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/evansville.
While the BBB endeavors to provide accurate information to the public, changes in the law, facts or circumstances may have occurred since the foregoing was posted. The BBB recommends doing independent research and consulting professional advisors concerning a particular situation.