Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus, District Attorney David Hoovler and Commissioner of Consumer Affairs Chuck Mitchell are urging residents to remain alert for internet and social media-based shopping scams as the holiday season kicks into full gear. Mitchell offered the following tips for residents who shop online during the holiday season:
- Avoid companies with poor customer service. There are two easy ways to investigate this and consumers should try both. They can review the companies Better Business Bureau rating and history (org) and conduct a web search of the company or product name using words such as “complain” or “return.”
- Read the return policy carefully before buying. Look out for return policies that are vague or ambiguous; policies that require consumers to get “permission” to return items; and policies that require returns to be sent overseas at the customer’s expense.
- Don’t mistake a social media “like” for a review of the company’s performance. Some companies pay individuals to promote their products, and some people who share or like product photos may not have made purchases.
- Use credit cards instead of debit cards when shopping at sites new to you. Credit cards provide fraud protections that debit cards do not. Using your debit card can give criminals access to your entire bank account.
Once an online transaction is made safely and securely, Hoovler said that residents should remain on alert. Packages are often stolen from doorsteps during the holiday season. Consumers who have been victims of any scam should immediately report it to local law enforcement.
For more information, call Commissioner of Consumer Affairs Chuck Mitchell at 360-6703 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.