Cyber Monday: An Online Scammer’s Holiday

November 26, 2012

Denver, CO – November 26, 2012 – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns shoppers that cybercriminals will be out in full force on the most popular shopping day of the year, Cyber Monday. In 2011, Cyber Monday shoppers broke sales records that increased 33 percent from 2010. This year may be another record-breaking year for Cyber Monday online shopping.

“The rise in popularity of Cyber Monday has definitely caught the attention of cybercriminals and unethical online merchants,” said Hope Marie Sneed, vice president of development and PR for the BBB of Denver/Boulder. “The BBB has continued to see a trend in rising complaints about internet shopping this time of year, and we’ve received more complaints in 2012 about internet shopping than in both 2011 and 2010—and the year isn’t even over yet.”

Identity thieves, online merchants selling counterfeit products, and online merchants taking payments and not delivering goods are the BBB’s top concerns this Cyber Monday. On Cyber Monday 2011, the Department of Justice shut down 150 websites that were selling counterfeit products such as sports jerseys and handbags.

To avoid Cyber Monday scams, the BBB offers the following 10 tips:

1. Know your rights – Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.

2. Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card-holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. Never wire money and only shop locally on sites like Craigslist.

3. Shop on trustworthy websites – Shoppers should start with BBB to check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. Visit to check out online sellers.

4. Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If you receive such an email, call the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.

5. Protect your computer – A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.

6. Protect your personal information – Take the time to read the site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there isn’t one posted, it should be taken as a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.

7. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Be leery of extremely low prices on hard-to-get items; it may be an offer that’s too-good-to-be-true. When you think you’re saving money, you could actually be losing it all together if you’re dealing with an disreputable seller who never delivers your item.

8. Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, right-click anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.

9. Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by email. Save a copy of the Web page and any emails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.

10. Check your credit card statements often –
Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by checking statements online regularly.

For more information, please visit

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About the BBB

The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Reviews , BBB Charity Reports and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, there are 114 local, independent BBBs across the U. S. and Canada. Please visit for more information.