“Buy one, get one free,” “Up to 60% off” and “$20 off your $65 or more purchase” are just some of the signs that one will see during discount season. Most stores offered their best deals to attract more customers for Cyber Monday, which is a marketing day on the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday to encourage online shopping.
However, while record sales are rising, thousands of people become victims of holiday scams every year, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Non-deliveries, which is when a shopper never receives the items they purchased, and non-payments, a term for when the seller is unpaid even when the items are delivered, are the two prevalent types of scams during discount season, according to IC3.
In 2018, the IC3 estimated that non-delivery and non-payment scams together affected more than 65,000 victims, causing almost $184 million in losses.
Los Angeles Police Department Captain Lee Sands tweeted five Cyber Monday online purchasing tips in light of the shopping day. He reminded that customers should make sure the website is legitimate, to use a credit card rather than a debit card and use a secure network, to be cautious of free offers and to report any suspicious activity.
USC Department of Public Safety Assistant Chief David Carlisle provided suggestions to avoid online scams as well. He said students should try to avoid using public Wi-Fi whenever they make purchases and check financial information.
“This is often a way that scammers access a sensitive data is to access the public Wi-Fi,” Carlisle said.
He also emphasized that students need to check customer service credentials of any site and to make sure they are dealing directly with the company.
“Be careful what links you click on when accessing website,” Carlisle said. “If you are unsure of a link, avoid opening it.”
USC students shared their special ways to ensure safe shopping, with purchasing items on trusted and reliable websites being the top suggestion.
USC sophomore Christine Crowell purchased this year’s Thanksgiving gifts on the e-commerce website Etsy. She has been a continuous Etsy shopper and has never been a victim of cyber scams before.
“I only use very trusted websites,” Crowell said. “Etsy would be one. Amazon is another big one that I use, or branding stores...Only official websites.”
In addition to recommending to shop on reliable websites, USC freshman Amrma Hertzog stated that it is important to look at the reviews on Instagram and Youtube discreetly.
“When the reviews are all good and positive, it’s mostly a fake,” Hertzog said. “You can’t always have good reviews.”