Pattie Lovett-Reid: Be aware of online scams when Black Friday shopping
The countdown is on to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping bonanza. While these shopping specials originated in the U.S. on the first Friday after Thanksgiving, it's a pastime now adopted by many Canadian consumers and retailers alike.
But after months of COVID-related lockdowns, you can be sure retailers and fraudsters alike will be glad to see you.
Here are a few tips to keep you safe when shopping online this holiday season:
SCRUTINIZE WEBSITES BEFORE ORDERING
Stay away from websites that don't provide basic contact details, such as an address or phone number, and be on the lookout for spelling mistakes or obvious grammatical errors in the website's copy.
Only purchase from sites that have a URL that begins with "https" -- the "s" stands for secure and means it has a reputable payment system in place.
A few tips:
1) Deal with only companies whose reputation you trust.
2) Shop using your home computer or a trusted and private Wi-Fi connection.
3) Go directly to the website to shop -- do not click on a link in an email, unless you can verify it is from a reputable company.
4) Consider using only one credit card with a low limit.
5) Never give your date of birth, social insurance number, or driver's license to a vendor.
WHEN SHOPPING IN STORE
If If you hit the mall to shop in person, a few basic reminders: Never let your credit card out of your hand and be sure to check your statements frequently to spot potential fraud. Stay off of free Wi-Fi connections which can be a hacker's dream. Your data can be easily accessed, downloaded and identity theft can occur before you finish a coffee in the food court.
Finally, if you are a victim, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll-free: 1-888-495-8501
Will I be shopping? You bet. I'll be making a list, price comparing, and safely shopping from the comfort of my home -- after work hours of course.