Scam alert: Black Friday online shopping

Scam alert: Black Friday online shopping

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Attorney General John Kroger is warning consumers to watch out for scams when shopping online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

He released the following tips to help protect your financial information:

1.    Know the seller
Anyone can set up shop online. Confirm the seller's physical address and phone number in case you have any problems or questions. You can also visit Be Informed, DOJ's online database of consumer complaints, to see if others have expressed concern about a vendor.

2.    Free iPad?
Even at Black Friday discounts, retailers tend to price similar items within a general range. Scam artists often lure shoppers to their websites with outrageously low prices. Shop around to get an idea of how much other retailers are asking for the same or similar items. Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

3.    Stay away from pop-up ads
Many pop-ups unleash viruses or spyware when you click on them. Make sure you have the latest firewall and anti-virus software installed on your computer to protect against online attacks.

4.    Stick to secure sites
Do not email financial information, such as your credit card or checking account number. If you initiate a purchase online, verify that the site is secure. Although no indicator is foolproof, when you are checking out, the site's web address should contain an "s" at the beginning (i.e., https://).

5.    Review the policy on refunds and delivery rates
Sometimes a seller will attempt to recoup some of the cost on sale items by tacking on excessive shipping and handling fees. Check if you can return the product for a full refund if you are not satisfied. You should also confirm which party is responsible for the cost of shipping returned items and whether there are any "restocking" fees that might apply.

6.    Keep a paper trail
Print and save records of every online transaction, including the product description, price, copy of your receipt and any correspondence with the company.

7.    Watch out for predatory loan, layaway or credit offers
Many of the credit and loan offers seen in supermarket tabloids, classified sections of the newspaper, Craigslist or on telephone poles are actually scams pitched to consumers who need extra money for the holiday season. Some layaway programs also charge large fees for even small amounts loaned.