Watch out for these holiday shopping scams
Consumer Law - November 23, 2023
Protect your wallet and your holiday cheer
It’s exhilarating to find the most sought-after gift, the best price on a holiday getaway, and give to others to make their holiday brighter. The holidays are one of the most common times that shopping scams become even more targeted, taking advantage of unsuspecting shoppers. Don’t let these scams steal your holiday joy, and remember that a trustworthy Chicago consumer law attorney can help regain your hard-earned money if scammers strike.
A deal that’s too good to be true
There used to be a time when empty shelf spaces meant a product would be unavailable until restocked. Now, advertisements on social media platforms, emails in your inbox, and searches online generate a solution to the problem of getting the most sought-after gift at a great deal, so keep these shopping scam tips in mind when online shopping:
- Never click on email links to get to a website. Tech-savvy scammers are professionals at making an email and web page look legitimate. Go directly to a company’s webpage and search for the product there.
- Ensure the sites you’re shopping from are for legitimate businesses. Check their domain name for odd variations of what the original business name should be, verify a secure URL, and search their Contact Us section to find a phone number and physical address while looking for these additional warning flags highlighted by the Better Business Bureau.
Popular gifts at low prices online or in-person should also set off warning bells. And if you’re buying a collector’s item or gift from an individual because of its name, inspect it to ensure it’s not a counterfeit product, which can easily make its way onto the market.
Your package cannot be delivered
Over the next few weeks, delivery services will transport millions of packages to Chicagoans, sending convenient notifications through email or text with delivery updates. Fake delivery attempt notices are the perfect online holiday scam because most people across the country are expecting packages.
Clicking on these links through text or email will lead to a fake sign-in page, and from there, your personal information is captured by scammers. Malware is another potential problem with fake delivery scams. These links can introduce malware to your computer, often giving scammers access to your personal information, costing online users amounts exceeding $10.3 billion annually.
Holiday rental scams
Whether you’re traveling to Chicago during the holiday or you need a place to have a holiday party, the holiday rental market can get demanding. So, it might seem like the time to search for online listings on sites other than verified rental business pages, especially if you only need accommodations for one night.
A one-night stay ban (g) was implemented in Chicago to protect homeowners and neighborhoods, cracking down on party houses, and address other challenges in the property rental business. However, finding an overnight stay on an online sales or social media platform may offer just what you want. Scammers often falsify their affiliations with property rental sites and offer these holiday rentals under the table with convincing photos and information.
Misrepresentation of a business affiliation with a rental company violates the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and should be discussed with a Chicago consumer law attorney. You work hard for the ability to travel and visit with family and friends, and holiday scams shouldn’t get in the way.
Gift cards instead of cash
Gift cards have become the equivalent of cash; sending or ordering them online has never been easier. It seems an easy way to prevent their theft from the mail. But phishing email scams that look like legitimate business emails hope you’ll take their bait. Entering your purchasing information gives scammers everything needed to enjoy a personal spending spree paid for by you and expose you to potential data breaches.
In-person sellers can also offer popular gift cards for lower prices than the face value. Empty gift cards stolen off the shelf that have never been loaded are often sold to unsuspecting buyers. Cash may feel impersonal, but it’s a guaranteed form of currency and a gift that never gets old.
Protect from scams this holiday season in Chicago
Working overtime and picking up a few extra hours is not uncommon to provide the perfect gifts for family and friends during the holiday season. Whether your celebrations include Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or simply coveted time with the people most special to you, stay vigilant for costly holiday shopping scams.
Scammers have become sophisticated in their techniques, so never feel embarrassed if a scam happens to you. Let Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates help you tackle holiday scammers this season. Schedule a free consultation online or call (800) 985-1819 to restore your holiday cheer.