SEATTLE, Washington (Isabelle Zehnder) — It’s a bit disheartening when, as a nation, we have to worry that early Christmas shopping can literally cost us our lives or that we can become victims of fraudulant online behavior.
Black Friday this year proved again to be violent and even deadly in some cases. Attacks occurred at Walmart stores across the country, leaving at least one dead and sending others to hospitals. One woman, trying to gain an advantage over other shoppers, actually pepper-sprayed about 20 people closeby. She managed to escape.
On Friday, Occupy protesters took to a Seattle mall area protesting Black Friday. Fortunately, things didn’t get out of hand and there were no injuries or fatalities.
Ways to protect yourself on Black Friday
There are ways a person can protect themselves on Black Friday. Don’t go alone. If you see someone beginning to behave oddly, leave the area. No sale item is worth your life or a trip to the hospital.
If you parked your vehicle a distance from the store, or if you did go alone, ask security to send someone to walk you to your car. An attack occurred Friday when a family walked to their car and a group of people tried to steal the items they’d purchased.
Susan Schutz from the Better Business Bureau provided safety tips to Seattle’s KING 5 News.
Schutz suggests you research the deals you’re interested in online before you leave your house to make sure the deal is as good as it sounds. Understand the limitations of the offer.
Get a gift receipt – find out what return policies are with great offers.
While shopping don’t ever leave your child or purse in a cart unsupervised.
Ways to protect yourself on Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday poses a whole new set of issues. Online crime is a major issue that will take years to get under control, if ever. Cyber criminals are aggressive and very creative in the ways they steal money and personal information.
Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims. It’s up to the shopper to be aware that scammers create fraudulant auction sites, reship merchandise that was purchased with a stolen credit card, and a myriad of other clever ways to defraud innocent shoppers.
Schutz said when it comes to shopping online for those great deals do your research. Watch out for the “too good to be true” deals, because they are usually just that – too good to be true.
Visit bbb.org to be sure the business actually exists and if they’ve had any complaints launched against them.
Make sure a site is secure before providing your credit card information.
If you have some concerns do more research. Do a Google search of the company name and see what comes up. If others have had bad experiences chances are they’ll be talking about it online.
Again, check bbb.org. You can also call the phone number provided and see how easy it is to speak with a representative with the company. If you don’t feel completely confident that the site is secure or that the company is who they say they are, move on and don’t buy from them, no matter how good of a price they’re offering.
When receiving an email notification be certain that you double-check that the email matches the site it directs to.
Don’t provide personal information to anyone who requests it in an email. A good example is Paypal. There have been countless scams where individuals with Paypal accounts receive emails requesting they update their account information.
Check with the company first. Legitimate companies say no one should ever ask for your personal information, such as your social security number.
Another scam is criminals who have obtained your information such as where you do your banking. They call on the phone requesting to update your information, such as your address or other personal information. Do not provide any information.
Instead, hang up and call your bank or whoever they claimed to represent and find out if they requested the information. Chances are great they weren’t the ones who called you.
Using common sense goes a long way when attempting to keep yourself safe during these times.
Symantec, the company that provides Norton virus protection said in a press release that there’s definitely a downside to being one of the nation’s leading tech-savvy cities – in March 2010 they named Seattle the No. 1 most vulnerable city in the US when it comes to cyber attacks.
When shopping online, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
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