Christmas shopping

This year I started my Christmas shopping early.  Most years I wait until the week before Christmas to do the actual shopping using a list I prepare months in advance.  I start this list early in the year, jotting down items people mention or good ideas for gifts as they surface.  By the time mid-December arrives, I just have to fill in a few blanks and do the actual shopping.  One of the reasons I started late over the years is because my eldest son was born December 12th so I did not decorate or shop for Christmas until his birthday was over.  At least that’s what I told myself, seems kind of silly now.

My biggest problem with starting the Christmas shopping early is that I end up spending too much money.  By the time Christmas arrives, I have strayed from my plan to buy one thing from “Mom and Dad” and one more thing from  “Santa” for everyone on my list.  When I start shopping early, I easily end up with at least three gifts in each category.  Of course, it doesn’t help when I buy an extra item for one person on the list, then have to balance out the list with one more for everyone else.  This was especially true when my children were young and knew exactly how many gifts each of them received.  Or perhaps it was my own obsession to keep things fair and even.

This year I purchased many gifts online.  This was successful in most cases, although there were a few disappointments.  My most successful online purchases were an Ottawa Senators onesie that I saw an advertisement for by SPORTSEDO on Facebook:

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and a vanity for my son’s girlfriend’s daughter:

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The greatest advantage to online shopping is that you do not have to deal with crowded stores and parking lots or hordes of rushing, grumpy people.  It seems like I saw a lot of that this year as I visited the local stores for stocking stuffers this past week.  The greatest drawback of online shopping is the possibility of getting ripped off.  I heard this year that many people looking to buy cheap

The greatest drawback of online shopping is the possibility of getting ripped off.  I heard this year that many people looking to buy cheap HATCHIMALS  got scammed.   I was fortunate; I got the quality I paid for, the delivery service was great, and the gifts were a hit with their recipients.

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Scams, scams and more scams

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I received two more scams today by email.  The first one was from someone claiming to be “checking my Netflix account”  They (in broken English and poor spelling) wanted me to click on a link to verify my account information with a threat that my family’s access to Netflix would be cut off if I did not follow the instructions.

The second scam was an email from someone claiming to be from Canada Post telling me I had a package that they tried to deliver but no one was home.  Again, they asked me to click on a link to verify my information and find out where to pick up my package.

Both are scams, looking to get information on unsuspecting individuals.  Popular services (such as Netflix and Canada Post) are being targeted because many people use and rely on them.  Clicking on the link provided will introduce a virus into your computer which will track personal information including banking details.

Clicking on the link provided in these scams will introduce a virus into your computer which will track personal information including banking details.  Instead of clicking on the link, delete the suspicious email immediately.

Here are a few clues that should make you suspect an emailed scam:

  • poor grammar and spelling in the content
  • telling you about something you did not order (packages)  Canada Post would never email you if they stop by and no one is home, they leave a notice at your door.
  • offers of refunds or money for nothing or ways to help you save.  If it sounds too good to be true, it is!
  • emails from someone you know that do not make sense, are very vague (i think you might be interested in this)  or contain a link you know nothing about
  • emails asking for information the (fake) sender (eg. CRA, bank etc) would already have on file
  • they are providing a service you did not request.  For example, they are telling you something is wrong with your computer and want you to log in so they can “help you fix the problem”
  • miracle cures of any sort (skin care, weight loss, etc etc) go under the “too good to be true” category
  • reputable companies do NOT ask for updated personal information via email

 

A PREVIOUS POST talked about scams you might encounter when shopping online.  Remember and be aware that perpetrators can find innocent, unsuspecting victims by email, phone, regular mail and even at your front door.  With modern technology, the world is becoming a much smaller place.  Scams, especially ones through email, can and do come from anywhere in the world today.

If you are even the least bit suspicious, google the company represented to see if there are any known scams associated with that company.  Use information available online to educate and protect yourself and others.  For example, I googled Netflix scam, and guess what, a whole list of results turned up.  This particular scam has been going on across Canada for a while now.   Remember, the company is not at fault, they are being used too.  The scammers are relying on these reputable, trusted and popular companies to get your attention.

After you delete the offending email, share the knowledge and warn your friends, family members, and neighbours.  The RCMP has a website for you to report SCAMS  and other fraudulent activity.

Be scam savvy!

Online shopping and scams

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Online shopping is very common today due to its convenience and our hectic schedules.  The problem is, there are lots of companies out there just waiting for busy and unsuspecting people like you and I to fall for their scams.  These are

Companies that offer a “free trial” of a product for just the cost of shipping, often charge you for the full price of the product (megabucks) if you do not cancel within a few days of ordering.  Not a few days from receiving the product and giving it a try, but a few days after ordering, often before you even receive the product to try.  They count on that discrepancy in the time factor, hoping you won’t have time or forget to cancel.  If you do not cancel within the specified time frame, you will not have much luck getting your money back.

Other companies keep renewing your order automatically whether you need more product or not. Again, this should have been spelled out in the fine print of the original offer.  Beware, it can be difficult to cancel the order completely or control when the products are shipped.

I had an incident last week where I had tried to book my son’s drivers test online.  I went through the whole process, prepaid for his test with my visa, then received an email saying it could not be booked online.  I was advised I would be refunded the payment.  Three business days later I received a refund, but was charged ten dollars for a “cancellation fee”

This list contains tips to (hopefully) prevent you from getting scammed when making online purchases:

  • read the fine print of any offer.  The details of the repeated/monthly payments are usually not visible front and center.
  • if an offer seems too good to be true, it generally is
  • consider a prepaid credit card for online purchases; refill it in small increments or just when you order something.   This is easy to do online.  That way the company you are purchasing from does not have your regular credit card number to make unauthorized, often repeated, transactions.
  • keep a close eye on your credit card statement.  This is easy to do these days with online accounts.  This is especially important since companies often have different names for payments on credit cards, making it difficult to keep track of your purchases and payments.
  • set up alerts on your credit card so you know immediately when they are  used.  This can easily be done online as well.  Phone the fraud department of the credit card you use if you do not recognize a transaction.  They are generally pretty good at giving you details of the transaction, but more importantly, will cancel your card if you suspect fraud.
  • do your research before you purchase a product from a company you are unfamiliar with.  Thankfully modern technology has supplied us with access to complaints, scams, and other information about companies.
  • order from companies you know about or have heard about.  Companies like Melaleuca and Rodan & Fields have consultants/team members to purchase from.  That way  you have recourse if something goes wrong with your order or your payment.

 

Online shopping is certainly convenient, but be aware of who you are dealing with.  Let me know of any tips you may have for online shopping safety.

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