3 On Your Side

Consumer alert: Scammers are targeting online shoppers with new tricks

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Alison Chaltas says she always does her homework before shopping. (Source: 3TV) Alison Chaltas says she always does her homework before shopping. (Source: 3TV)
Sorin Mihailovici, the founder of Scam-detector.com, says the trend is for fraudsters to take existing scams and make them harder to detect. (Source: 3TV) Sorin Mihailovici, the founder of Scam-detector.com, says the trend is for fraudsters to take existing scams and make them harder to detect. (Source: 3TV)
The key tip while shopping, Mihailovici says, is to look up at the URL and look for HTTPS. (Source: 3TV) The key tip while shopping, Mihailovici says, is to look up at the URL and look for HTTPS. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

We’re not just heading into shopping season but shopping scam season.

Last year, people in the U.S. clicked and bought nearly $94 billion worth of goods during the holidays, and experts are expecting up to a 20 percent jump this year. The thing is, fraud attempts increased more than 30 percent last year, too, and, experts say, the scammers just keep getting better.

Alison Chaltas is an executive and busy wife and mom. So, when it comes to shopping, it’s all about the click-and-buy.

“I shop online all the time. I would say at least once a day,” she said. “I do all of my clothing shopping online, all my gift shopping online.”

If you like to shop from your kitchen, it’ll come as no surprise that e-commerce keeps growing as a percentage of overall retail sales.

[RELATED: Clever job scam builds trust before dropping hammer]

The thing is, experts say, scammers make it their full-time job to catch you off guard.

Sorin Mihailovici, the founder of Scam-detector.com, says the trend is for fraudsters to take existing scams and make them harder to detect.

Some to watch for are fake puppy postings and links promising must-have items at below-market prices. And, Mihailovici says, be especially careful of links for too-good-to-be-true deals on social media.

[RELATED: AZ Attorney General issues warning about holiday shopping scams]

“So, what scammers do, they go on, on social media platforms. They advertise great products that are real products only cheaper and they would send them to their own duplicate sites,” he says.

The key tip while shopping, Mihailovici says, is to look up at the URL and look for HTTPS.

“So, if they don't have that, if the duplicate site doesn't have the HTTPS and it only has HTTP, you can rest assured that that's a scam,” he says.

[RELATED: AZAG: Seven most common scams and schemes targeting seniors]

Also, look at reviews of a site before buying, and don’t depend on testimonials on the site itself, according to Mihailovici.

Chaltas says she always does her homework before shopping.

“I also kind of count on my credit card provider to be an extra level of security,” Chaltas said.

Mihailovici also warns that the iTunes gift cards scam is popping up again. If you get an email with a receipt for a gift card you never sent and it gives you a link to cancel-- do not click on that. And, of course, never do any shopping on public Wi-Fi.

For the latest scams, check out scam-detector.com

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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