These are the Top 5 red flags to watch out for while holiday shopping online

Some of the biggest shopping days of the year are upon us and according to the Federal Trade Commission, one in four people who have reported losing money to fraud say it started on social media.

Experts say there are five red flags you should be watching out for.

“A lot of people are falling victim to these fake ads”, said Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst for Bankrate.

He said the number one red flag you need to watch for is huge discounts that sound too good to be true.

Holiday and home decor company “Balsam Hill” had to put a warning on its website about fake warehouse sales and unclaimed orders.

“You click on it, the real key is that it takes you to a very realistic looking landing page where you really feel like you’re transacting on the company’s website”, says Rossman, “but when you type in your card number and place your order, it’s fake, you’re scammed.

That leads to red flag No. 2: typos or strange spellings in account names, bios, or website URLs.

And red flag No. 3: any request involving gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency.

“It sounds kind of ridiculous, but I’ve heard some of these calls”, said Rossman. “I’ve heard people fall for it.

Pennsylvania ranks 8th in the nation when it comes to money stolen in online scams with more than 14-thousand people losing more than $250 million last year according to Social Catfish, a company dedicated to preventing online scams through reverse search technology.

Most of that comes in the form of red flag No. 4: high pressure.

Titania Jordan, CEO of Bark Technologies says, “Anytime you are being asked to pay money in order to save somebody, receive a prize, get a job, any time there’s a financial transaction on the horizon, please take a minute to think do you actually know this person? Is this a trusted financial entity?”

Jordan says the 5th red flag is anyone contacting you who appears to know something about you.

“People utilizing just a little bit of P.I.I.”, Jordan said. “That’s personally identifiable information to give the recipient pause and make them think, gosh, this is actually somebody that I know.”

“It’s pretty easy to grab some info about people online”, Rossman said. “Chances are somebody who knows what they’re doing, they could probably at least find the last 4 digits of your social security number or the last 4 digits of your card number, so they build trust.”

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