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Avoid online scams during the holidays

Let us start by saying that online shopping is a great way to get some of the season’s best deals.  As immigrants in Canada, we may not always be able to find the gift that we want for our loved ones in the local area, and may have to order something special for them online.  There may be some slight differences to the checkout process online compared to what we are used to in our countries of origin.  Making it harder for immigrants to identify when something is out of the ordinary when entering credit card details online. During the holidays, we all need to be extra careful when buying gifts online.

Here are some of the most common online scams you will want to avoid:

 

1) Gift Cards Scam

Gift cards make a great gift for anyone.  They are a fast, easy and convenient way to give a monetary gift, but also show that you put a little extra thought into it, rather than just giving cash. You can get gift cards from many stored and online vendors like Amazon.  You do need to be wary of buying online gift cards from private sellers.  You may find that they are offering a gift card with a value of $20, for half price, for you to receive it and it has all been spent.  As a general rule of thumb, if an online deal is too good to be true, it usually is.  It is best to steer clear of buying gift cards online from anywhere except the source, you should make sure that they also offer a guarantee too.

 

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2) Fake Goods

Knock-off brand name products are a huge problem in the online shopping space for both customers and businesses.  What makes them so difficult to identify is that you are unable to actually hold the product and feel the quality that you would expect from the expensive brand names.  Here is where you will need to do some sleuthing when it comes to the website that you are thinking of buying from.  Google the website and look for positive or negative reviews about the products that they are selling and also their reputation as an online store.  Try to remain objective, even if you see a deal that is too good to pass up.  If you still have any doubts, you may want to look into their return policy before purchasing, better still, go to a website that has your full confidence.

 

3) E-Card Scam

This one is hard to defend against.  It can be very exciting this time of year as you receive many well wishes and e-Christmas cards, however, you need to be wary of clicking on any links in emails that you are unsure of the original source.  Even at this time of year, you need to be sure that you do not ignore the basics of internet security.  The e-card scam works by sending you what you think is an e-card from a friend or colleague, then when you open it, a virus, trojan horse or malware can be downloaded onto your computer.  Hackers can then steal your personal information and login details to any service that you use online.  Just make sure that you only open emails from trusted people in the build-up to the holidays and you should be fine.

 

Here’s some advice from the government of Canada about internet and telephone scams:

Don’t be a victim of a scam