PORTLAND -- Cyber Monday is coming up soon and tens of billions of dollars will be spent online this year. But with that much money comes a lot of online risk.
Millions of shoppers will use their cell phones, laptops, tablets and desktops to shop online. And the unfortunate reality is, you do not always get what you pay for.
A reality Alea Batty learned the hard way.
“It's just so cheap looking” she laughed, while holding the jewelry that arrived in the mail. Cheap, but expensive.
Alea was on the Macy’s website when a pop-up ad asked her to take a short survey. So she did. “I went through the survey and at the end I was offered what I thought was a free piece of jewelry.”
That free jewelry cost Alea about $150. The pop-up was not from Macy’s and it automatically enrolled her in a program to buy more jewelry. Her credit card started getting billed without her knowledge.
Experts, like iovation’s Jon Karl warn that it’s easy to get diverted from one site to another.
“Who is that business on the other end of the line, do you know them? Because there's lots of opportunities to spend your money with somebody you don't know,” he said.
Karl is the VP of Corporate Development at Portland’s iovation, one of the largest online fraud protection companies in the world. He said while common sense should guide each shopper's online experience, each person must also be skeptical to be safe.
“You have to be really careful when you're clicking on offers that are coming to you,” he said.
And there will be a lot of them. The National Retail Federation estimates online holiday sales will increase in 2013 by 13%-15%, generating more than $82 billion in sales. With that many purchases, Karl said consumers should limit the amount of personal information they give out.
“You really should only have to give them the data that's necessary to get a product to you. So, your name, your address and the information for your credit card,” he said. If retailers start asking for your social security number or your date of birth, you should avoid doing business with that retailer.
Another tip Karl suggested was to only shop online with a credit card. It provides a level of protection that debit cards and electronic checks do not. Your credit card, he said, will protect you if something goes wrong with your online purchase.
Alea said that advice likely saved her from getting billed again for more jewelry. “To make sure I would be charged any more, I called and told my credit card company that this was not what I was signing up for."
Experts offered these five top tips for Cyber Monday shoppers:
- Know the company you’re doing business with.
- Be skeptical and look for some reviews of the company if you’re unsure.
- Only give the data and personal information that is necessary to get the product delivered to your home.
- Do not respond to advertisements that come to you.
- Protect yourself by always using your credit card to purchase products.