Four tips to avoid holiday shopping fraud

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Mind Your Business: Tips For Holiday Shopping In Stores And Online

CROMWELL — Connecticut Better Business Bureau urges consumers to be aware that fraud and crimes of contact spike during the holiday shopping season.  Cyber criminals and common thieves know that shoppers are distracted, rushed or easy to catch off guard in stores and on scam websites that pepper the internet.

“Pickpockets and purse snatchers are always actively looking for shoppers who are distracted or overburdened with packages,” according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau Executive Communications Director, Howard Schwartz.  “Thieves will grab your wallet, purse, credit card or cash in a store, mall or parking lot.”

Online shopping is also a huge revenue source for cyber criminals at this time of year, because consumers spend so much time looking for the best gifts at the lowest price.  Unfortunately, cyber criminals set up websites and pose as legitimate, cut-rate retailers, but have no intention of shipping any merchandise after accepting payment.

Connecticut BBB offers the following tips to protect yourself from becoming a victim of holiday shopping crime:

Research the website – Some unfamiliar shopping sites offer electronics or luxury goods with unrealistically low prices.  Check out websites at to see if they are legitimate, and always use a secure form of payment such as a credit card or trusted online payment system.

Be selective about where you shop – If a store is out of stock, many consumers hop online to get those “must have” items.  The issue is where you buy. Online classified ad sites carry greater risks than the internet because private transactions do not guarantee any protection if there is a dispute or the merchandise never arrives.

Look for the “S” – When it’s time to enter payment information, legitimate websites’ addresses begin with “HTTPS.”  The “S” stands for secure and is typically accompanied by an icon – usually a padlock – to indicate that the seller is legitimate and taking necessary security measures to protect your credit card and other information.

Beware of unsolicited phishing emails and texts – Phishing is an attack that lures you into clicking a link or opening an attachment, either of which can compromise your personal information and expose virtually all of your accounts, logins and passwords.  The common phishing vehicles at this time of year include infected eGreeting cards or fake delivery notices that look like they come from delivery companies.  Instead of clicking on a link, determine the legitimacy of a delivery service notice by calling to confirm whether the notice is genuine.

Howard Schwartz  Executive Communications Director Connecticut BBB