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Students at increased risk of online shopping scams this holiday season

<p>The combination of increased consumerism and special offers make shoppers particularly susceptible to online scams during the  holidays.</p>

The combination of increased consumerism and special offers make shoppers particularly susceptible to online scams during the holidays.

Scams are prevalent in today’s highly technology-dependent society. 

During the holiday season, consumers have less skepticism and a greater tendency to spend. This, combined with the rushed nature of online sales, can lead people to fall into internet scams, said Ashwani Monga, a professor and chair of the Marketing Department at the Rutgers Business School—Newark.

“People are happy and their guard is down,” Monga said. “They are in a mood to give to charity as well as spend on themselves and their friends and family.”

In addition to the prevalence of special deals, people are more susceptible to being scammed by con-artists in December because it is considered to be the season of giving, he said. 

The rate of online scamming especially increases on Christmas Eve due to the buying and selling of gift cards and various last minute online purchases, according to an article by Business Wire.

According to Yahoo Finance, retailers should expect a 12 percent increase in online fraud during the holiday season compared to last year. 

During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the higher volume of online shoppers creates a greater risk of internet scams, according to a report by Forbes. This risk is heightened by the existence of special offers and deals that can be mimicked by scammers for malicious purposes. 

This is partially due to the widespread transition to chip credit cards, Yahoo reported. 

According to a press release by the FBI, an effective way to avoid being scammed online is to “steer clear of unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand-name merchandise or gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product."

These types of sites can coerce a person into giving away personal information and compromising their identity, according to the release. 

The report showed social media posts that pose as holiday promotions or surveys, even those shared by friends, are often designed to steal personal information.

In this way, fraudulent agencies trick consumers and steal valuable bank and credit card information, said Mellody Hobson, president of the company Ariel Investments in an interview with Black America Web.

Con artists might also pose as well-known charitable organizations or create fraudulent ones of their own, she said in the interview.

Hobson said she encourages all consumers to verify the legitimacy of the charities they might donate to. The best method of donation is through check or credit card as they are more easily recovered in case of fraud than cash or a wire transfer.

“One of the most effective new methods that scammers are using is fake apps,” Hobson said. 

Mobile shopping hit record highs this holiday weekend, and according to a report from WJBF, it is particularly important to avoid companies that you do not recognize when making online or mobile purchases. 

In the case that one does find themself the victim of a scam, Hobson advises holiday shoppers to immediately document the source of the fraud. 

“File a police report, as your bank and other parties might want a copy of the report at some point," she said. 

Christopher Robertson is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year majoring in journalism. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.

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