With the shopping frenzy that is Black Friday to Cyber Monday just wrapping up… and holiday shopping just ramping up, consumers are being warned to be wary of scammers.
Speaking on the Lynda Steele show, former Mountie and president of BCSI Investigation Denis Gagnon says it’s one of fraudsters favourite seasons, packed with opportunities to catch unwitting shoppers.
He says it’s a growth industry, because while cyber criminals can be tracked down by police or private investigators, it’s an expensive and difficult process.
“The advantage is that it’s faceless, so for someone like us to investigate, we have to go online, we have to locate those individuals, and we’re dealing with jurisdiction, they may be overseas.”
He says on top of traditional phishing and identity theft fraud, there are a number of more subtle ways online shoppers can get scammed.
- Counterfeit goods
- Lack of disclosure (including difference in currency, shipping costs, or membership requirements)
- Computer products shipped with old, or no software
- Fake reviews
“You expect that it’s a great product or service, and then it’s faked. So those reviews say that it’s five star, but you get it and it’s one star.”
Gagnon’s advice to avoid trouble?
“Communicate with only reliable retailers.”
Gagnon says by shopping on Craigslist or Kijiji – or even at a real shop that shouldn’t be selling a branded item like a Chanel bag or MAC cosmetics, you open yourself up to possible scams.
“A luxury item should be purchased from the retailer that’s supposed to carry it. If you want a Louis Vuitton purse, you should buy it from a Louis Vuitton store.”
But he says shoppers should avoid sending money directly or using services like Pay Pal, because if the deal is bogus, they won’t be able to get their money back.
“When you start getting into major problems is when you wire the money. When you wire, they will say, well the money has been wired, it’s a legitimate transaction.”
At the end of the day, Gagnon says its up to shoppers to make sure they’re well educated and shopping safely. He says with the holidays approaching, consumers need to have their wits about them, and their scam radar finely tuned.