In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Americans choosing the comfort and safety of online shopping has grown significantly over the past year. Fraudsters have also identified online retail as a growth opportunity for scams designed to catch careless shoppers off guard.
A recent AARP survey suggests that consumers may have a lot to learn about safe online shopping. Among the survey's key findings (PDF): 27 percent of U.S. adults are not concerned about the safety of their personal and financial information when shopping online; and 74 percent of consumers plan on using debit cards, whereas AARP advises that credit cards and digital wallets "are better choices to avoid fraud loss."
Keep in mind that some digital wallets include peer-to-peer – or P2P – payment options. Most P2P payment products expressly warn consumers to avoid using P2P payments for purchasing goods or services. Unlike traditional banks and credit cards, payment app services often lack the same fraud protections, according to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB).
During a recent webinar hosted by the FCC, consumer experts from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) highlighted resources and tips to protect consumers shopping online or using mobile devices to make purchases, particularly during the holiday season. The BBB encourages consumers to use secure and traceable transactions and payment methods, and suggests consumers be cautious when paying by digital wallet/P2P apps, prepaid money cards, or other non-traditional payment methods. Check the BBB's website for more guidance on shopping online safely, including tips from major online platforms.
The CFPB offers a range of guidance on charitable giving, online shopping, financial advice, and resources for avoiding COVID scams.