What you can do to avoid online scams this holiday shopping season

What you can do to avoid online scams this holiday shopping season

Rule number one when it comes to online shopping, especially during the holiday -- to trust is good, but not to trust is better!

The online search for that perfect gift can cloud your judgement sometimes.

“I was looking for a one-wheel skateboard hoverboard for my 8-year-old daughter,” said Tracey, who asked us not to use her last name.

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A very special gift with a price tag that can run more than $1,500, so Tracey decided to check online marketplace sites for a better deal. She found one on OfferUp.

“I came across a telephone number, and it said test me for a faster response,” she said.

So, she did.

“They were asking 750, and I said would you take 600?” Tracey said.

Going offline is never a good idea with independent sellers, because you often don’t get the buyer protection marketplace sites offer.

“All the red flags were there, but I was a mom on a Christmas mission and I squashed every one of those red flags,” she said.

Her great deal turned to frustration and disappointment after she paid, and when the one-wheel never came.

“My heart sank, cause I was like is this a scam,” Tracey said.

Here are important tips to protect yourself when shopping online:

  • Don’t take it offline
  • Don’t pay with gift cards or cash apps
  • Check for the little lock in the upper left corner of the website when you check out to make sure it’s secure
  • And look for misspellings on a website or URL -- it often indicates a spoofed website.

Tracey wanted to share her story to warn others, especially when she realized there were several other similar posts on the website.

Reporter: What’s your message to people searching for that perfect gift?

“Be careful. Go through trusted sites. Trust your gut instinct. The red flags were there, I chose to ignore them,” Tracey said.

A couple more tips: Don’t use public WiFi when you’re shopping. It makes it easier for scammers to hack and intercept your information.

And lastly, instead of debit cards and money transfer apps, like Venmo, stick to credit cards -- which offer more protection if something goes wrong.

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