How to Protect Yourself From Online Scams When Holiday Shopping

Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season, but it’s also the perfect time to be scammed out of money.

Michigan’s Attorney General’s Office estimates millions of dollars are lost every year due to scams.

“You know the business and inventory when it’s in person, but when it is on the web, some businesses are totally fabricated,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The popular and convenient way to do shopping is by the swipe of your finger online.

“The scam artists know that, and they’re out there, and they are creating these fraudulent websites, fraudulent products and finding new and innovative ways to steal your information and to steal your money,” said Nessel

Nessel says Facebook and Instagram are where ads pop up as you scroll the most prominent scams. Nessel recommends to never giving information to an online store you have never heard about.

“Before you go on there and give them your personal information, make sure your research it, and it is really easy if you just google it and look for reviews you should be able to find pretty quickly if it is legitimate or not,” said Nessel.

Another way to tell if you are shopping on a safe website is by checking the web address. The web address should start with the letters HTTPS and a padlock icon next to the URL.

Scammers also target people looking to give charitable donations. You can check where your donations are going through the Attorney General’s charity navigator.

“Any non-profit 5013c should be registered with the state, but it will almost give you additional information about that charity before you decide to open your pocketbook,” said Nessel.

If you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam or are unsure of an online business, the best thing to do is contact the Michigan attorney general’s office.

“We have a whole consumer protection division, and that is what we are there to do for people who have these issues,” said Nessel.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection information and Charity Navigator