Many of things you may buy for the holidays, such as toys, laptops, phones, and printers, have chips in them. Since there’s a global chip shortage, prices are going up, and items that have chips will probably be harder to find.
Scammers are taking advantage of these shortages and are trying to sell items in short supply.
Don’t be fooled.
Use these tips to avoid scams as you get ready for holiday shopping, advises Carly Johnson, intern for the Division of Consumer and Business Education at the Federal Trade Commission.
- Research sellers before you buy. Search online for the name of the seller and product, plus words such as “complaint” and “scam.” And read reviews about the seller and its products, too.
- Be skeptical. This year’s “it” game? For a great price in mid-December? From a seller you’ve never heard of? Check it out.
- Compare products. Even with the chip shortage, shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Comparison shop online looking at prices, delivery dates, and discounts or coupon codes.
- Start shopping early. In the last-minute rush, you may be more likely to make mistakes and get tripped up by a scammer.
- Pay by credit card. Paying by credit card gives you more rights to dispute the charge if something goes wrong. And if someone tells you to pay by wire transfer, with cryptocurrency, or by mailing cash, stop and find another seller. That’s how scammers tell you to pay.
- Keep records. Save copies of your receipts and order confirmations from online orders. Keep them until you get what you ordered and know you won’t return things.
If you see a scam while holiday shopping, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov and/or your state Attorney General’s Office.
Good luck and have fun shopping.