With pre-holiday mayhem behind us, lots of retailers are starting in on the post-holiday sales. And with the buying for others done, we're starting in on the buying for ourselves. Hey, all that Christmas cash and gift certificates aren't going to spend themselves! Unfortunately, gadgets and electronics, particularly Apple products, are a huge money-maker for scammers. So, if you'll be looking for a great deal after the holidays, especially if you're looking at eBay and similar services rather than Apple and the big retail stores, here are some tips to keep in mind so you make sure you don't get taken advantage of, and do get the deal you deserve!
1. If you're buying online, always look for feedback
Whether you're buying on Amazon or eBay or some other reputable website, it's important that you always look at feedback. This is particularly true for high dollar electronics items such as iPhones, iPads, and Macs. If a seller has zero feedback, that's usually a bad sign. Continue looking for someone else that has lots of great feedback.
Use your personal judgement, but don't hesitate to to contact the seller and ask any questions you may have before hand. Getting everything in writing now is a great way to avoid disputes later.
2. If a deal looks too good to be true, it most likely is
People spend a lot of money around the holidays and scammers know it. Lots of fake listings for iPhones, iPads, and other kinds of gear will start to pop up online. If you see an iPhone 6 Plus on eBay for $300, it's most likely a scam. Just like there's no such thing as a free lunch, there's no such thing as deeply discounted Apple products.
3. You'll never win a free iPad or iPhone on Facebook or similar sites
There are a lot of ads floating around on Facebook and other sites offering free iPads, iPhones, and other gadgets in exchange for you completing surveys or coughing up other personal information. And, sadly, lots of people fall for them. Here's the deal — Not only will you never win a free gadget from doing things like this, you're setting yourself up to receive nothing but email and marketing spam for months or years to come.
Just say no to spam. Don't fill out forms and surveys on social media sites. Nothing good will come of it. Ever.
4. Only buy from reputable websites
You can trust sites like Apple.com or Best Buy's online store. You shouldn't trust a site you've never heard of, especially if their prices are far, far below what reputable sites are offering. If you're looking for a deal, it's best to check reputable deal sites and apps such as Groupon or LivingSocial.
There are lots of awesome apps available that can offer incredible deals all year around but even when purchasing from apps like Wish, you should make sure to read reviews first before committing to a purchase. Treat these kinds of services just like you do Amazon or eBay.
5. Don't click on links in emails
Because so many people are shopping and entering their payment information online right now, the Phishing sites are out in full force. They're hoping people won't pay attention and will enter their credit card and account information into look-alike sites. They'll often try to trick you into clicking on links in email to get you to their fake sites. That's why you always need to double check the URL before clicking on it. Hover your mouse over it on the desktop or tap and hold on it in mobile to see what it really is (copy and paste it into Notes and read it there if you need to). You can trust "amazon.com". You cannot trust "am.azon.com" or "amazon.webpayments.areyoureadingthis.ru.cn".
Don't ever go to a website if you aren't 100% sure it's legitimate. If it looks suspicious, don't use it. Also verify email addresses are what they seem.
5. Make sure websites are realsecure before entering payment info
You also want to make sure there's a "s" in https:// before entering any kind of sensitive information. In many browsers such as Safari or Chrome, you can even click on the green banner in order to view the security certificate. Sure security certificates don't always means you aren't getting scammed, but it's definitely something you want to look for before transmitting your banking info over the internet.
6. Insure packages and don't sign if there's visible damage
If possible, insure packages. This is especially true whenever you are purchasing from a private seller. Not only are the holidays a time for scammers to try and sell boxes of nothing, it's a time for thieves to grab packages right off doorsteps. Insuring your package will help mitigate damage should your items go astray.
Secondly, if you're around when a package is delivered, check it carefully before accepting it, and never sign for anything that's damaged. You can even open it with the delivery person present if you feel you need to. I've done this a few times with eBay items after hearing about people receiving water bottles or other worthless objects instead of iPads or other electronics. Having a witness is never a bad idea if you feel even the least bit uneasy.
7. Don't fall for deceptive credit card reward offers
The holidays are a perfect time for credit card companies and banks to take advantage of unknowing consumers. While these aren't technically "scams", they might as well be. Watch out for huge reward promises or zero percent interest offers. Remember to always read the fine print and know what you're getting into. Most of the time the rewards don't outweigh the fees or other hoops you have to jump through.
Just use common sense. No credit card company is going to give you a free iPad just for signing up for their card. Offers like that are always too good to be true. So before taking a hit to your credit or ending up with a card you really don't even want, avoid it altogether.
Your tips for not getting scammed around the holidays?
For most scammers, the holidays are the perfect time to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers. If you or someone you know learned from a bad experience, or you just have some of your own common sense tips people should know about, be sure to drop them in the comments below!