Every holiday season, big companies release new products in limited quantities to create hype and put pressure on parents to buy these hard-to-obtain items.
Scammers know parents don’t want their children to feel disappointed on Christmas morning and use the toy’s popularity to trick parents into spending their money on fake or non-existing items.
How the Scam Works
Now that Sony’s new Playstation 5 has become difficult to find, parents are beginning to feel anxious as they travel from store to store, hoping to find one left. Along with their in-person searches, they’re also turning to online stores. This is where scammers are lurking, waiting for parents to take the bait.
Parents seeking a glimpse of home come across advertisements and sites that not only have the PS5 in stock, but also have them available at discounted prices. But, they’re only available in limited quantities.
Unfortunately, those behind these websites and advertisements are mostly scammers. And, those who fall for their scams are left waiting in anticipation for the PS5 they paid a large sum of money for. When it doesn’t arrive, parents are left feeling frustrated and kids are left feeling disappointed.
Upon returning to the website to check on delivery or contact the website, parents discover blank pages, general messages like “site under construction” or “all orders have been delayed” with no answers about their order.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
Make sure you’re using a legitimate & secure website
To check the security of a website you’re visiting, look at the address bar. Do you see https:// before the website URL or just http://? The S stands for “secure”. This means the website has an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. In other words, the website encrypts any information entered into the website before it leaves the site.
Research Before You Buy Online
The SSL certificate means that your information is kept secure while it travels from your computer to the company you’re doing business with, but it doesn’t guarantee that the company is legitimate. If you’re shopping with a company that isn’t well-known, do some research on the company first. Search for the name of the company, along with the word “reviews” to see what others have to say about them. If you can’t find anything at all, this is another red flag that you should run the other way.
Use a Payment Method with Fraud Protection
Never, ever use a website that requests payment in the form of money order, wire transfer, or check. You should also avoid using debit cards for online purchases whenever possible. Once the money is pulled from your checking account, you’re unlikely to recover, whereas you can easily dispute charges on your credit cards.
Cybercriminals don’t do what they do for nothing. Their tactics get more and more advanced to the point where even the savviest individuals find themselves duped by a scammer. Browser protection blocks malicious websites, phishing attempts, scams, and alerts you when you’re visiting a website that is too new to be trusted.