TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – With some of the country’s largest retailers keeping doors closed on Thanksgiving and coronavirus concerns still prevalent, online consumer spending is expected to grow 33% this year compared to last year’s online shopping. And with more online shopping comes more online schemes.
According to the consumer research firm Drive Research, only about 16% of shoppers are planning to visit stores in-person this Black Friday, while most are planning to do their shopping online.
In 2019, one in three Americans shopped in-person. This year, only 1 in 3 consumers are forgoing holiday gifts completely this year due to COVID-19, according to a WalletHub survey.
“Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year and, even with more Floridians turning to online shopping this year, it is imperative to protect yourself from Black Friday fraud and scams,” Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis said in a statement. “Scammers are constantly using new tricks to steal your hard-earned money but the best defense is to know the warning signs of a scam before you fall victim.”
But it’s not just shopping schemes that state and federal officials are warning about. The FBI and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody both issued warnings to consumers this week about charity schemes.
According to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker, there were six charity schemes reported in Florida between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019, totaling more than $10,000.
Some helpful tips to avoid holiday-related schemes include:
- Be aware that schemers can easily create online retail sites with no intention of shipping ordered products. Consider shopping with trusted retailers that are familiar or research to make sure the retailer has a history of good customer service.
- Know that if a deal appears too good to be true, it almost always is.
- For more security online, contact your credit or debit card provider to find out if it offers one-time card numbers to be used in online transactions to further protect cardholder accounts.
- Before donating, ensure the charity is registered and eligible to solicit in the state of Florida by visiting FDACS.gov/ConsumerServices or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA.