cyber monday

How To Avoid Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday Scams

Online shopping — and donating — isn't without its risks.

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From Black Friday, to Cyber Monday, to Giving Tuesday, the days following Thanksgiving contain some of the top shopping and giving times of the day.

But online shopping — and donating — isn't without its risks, since consumers are asked to give out personal and secure, financial information over the internet. As misleading advertisements, phony websites and untrustworthy sellers often pop-up around the holidays, here are a few tips from the BBB on protecting your money and identity this season.

Tips for avoiding Cyber Monday scams

Lookout for false advertising and phony websites

Is a company is selling the hottest item of the year at a price that seems too good to be true? It probably is.

Watch out for false advertising and keep a close eye on the web address in your browser, since, "scammers love to create lookalike websites that, at first glance, appear to belong to a trusted retailer," says the BBB.

Read customer reviews

Be skeptical of businesses you aren’t familiar with, the BBB says. Look for ratings, business profiles, and read customer reviews.

Keep your antivirus software up to date

"Make sure you have antivirus software installed on your computer or mobile device, and that it is up to date," the BBB says. "This will help you to avoid non-secure websites and pop-up phishing scams, and help keep your personal information safe."

Check price comparisons across retailers

Compare prices from different retailers as your search online for what you'd like to buy. The BBB stresses that the best deal may not be the real deal.

Use your credit card instead of a debit card

"It’s always best to make online purchases with your credit card," the BBB advises. "If any shady charges turn up later, you will be able to contest them through your credit card company. Debit cards don’t offer this same protection."

Stay away from making purchases from online sellers requesting payment by prepaid debit cards or wiring them money.

Watch out for phishing scams

Phishing scams often come in the form of unsolicited emails, texts, calls, and may claim you have a free gift waiting for you or that there is a problem with a delivery. Avoid answering these calls or clicking on any links in these messages, and do not give out any personal information.

Tips for avoiding Giving Tuesday scams

Look closes at names of charities, read their website carefully and be aware of tax deductions

"A responsible charity will include the following facts on its website: its mission and programs, measurable goals, and concrete criteria that describe its achievements," the BBB Wise Giving Alliance says.

"You should also be able to find information on their finances...and don't assume every organization claiming to do good is a tax-exempt charity."

You can check an organization’s tax status with the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. Also, make sure your contribution is tax deductible.

Be skeptical of on-the-spot donation asks and emotional appeals

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance advises consumers to not succumb to pressure to or make an immediate donation decision.

"Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Instead of making an impulse decision based on emotion, do some research first to verify that your selected charity operates ethically," the Alliance says.

Check with state charity officials. 

If you aren't familiar with the name of the charity, check with your state. In many cases, charities are required to register with the office of the attorney general before soliciting.

If you’ve spotted an online scam, report it to BBB ScamTracker.