Though it doesn’t have the fanfare of Black Friday or even Cyber Monday, Mother’s Day is one of the biggest retail events of the year. Those flowers, chocolates, jewelry, and $10 greeting cards add up, with close to $30 billion projected for Mother’s Day-related purchases in 2021.
Make no mistake, scammers are ready to take advantage of all those sons and daughters and grandkids trying to do something nice for the moms in their family. So, before you place that order for flowers or buy that enormous box of chocolate, read about these common Mother’s Day scams and how to avoid them.
5 common Mother’s Day scams:
- The fake flower shop: According to Scam Detector, one common Mother’s Day con is to create a phony flower shop. These transient operations take your money and then never send flowers. It’s common for these sites to offer what seems like a once-in-a-lifetime deal.
Tip: Research the website, especially a new one, before entering your credit card. Does it have actual reviews? Has somebody you know ordered there before? Be especially cautious of once in a lifetime offers.
- Overpriced flowers: Sometimes the flowers are real, but they are way more expensive than advertised. Typically, a company engaged in this shady practice will charge a small amount for the flowers but load the bill up with other fees.
Tip: again, do your research. It may be unpleasant, but take your time to read all the information when you’re ordering from an online service.
- Phishing scams: According to the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, Mother’s Day provides an excellent opportunity for phishers to collect private information. Common scams include offering a free gift card or prepaid credit card to those who answer a few questions. Needless to say, applicants never see the “reward.”Tip: Don’t give away your data to unknown parties.
- Malware e-card: As the art of letter writing continues to fade, e-cards become more common. They’re easy to send and can get a nice chuckle. However, be careful about which links you click. E-cards can contain malware that infects your computer or scrapes your sensitive personal information. These scams may come from accounts of people you know and trust, including children and friends.
Tip: Always ask the sender if they sent you an e-card before clicking on the link.
- Copycat Websites: Criminals create fake websites that look like reputable retailers using a URL that is very similar to the real destination. Unwitting victims let their guard down because they are familiar with the branding. These scams are set up to steal your data and/or take the money and run.
Tip: Check website URLs for inconsistencies. A slight misspelling (a practice called typosquatting) can be hard to notice. Go slow and be sure before you make a purchase or enter your information.
- Make purchases in person: Not only is this an opportunity to support local businesses, but you’ll have more control if any issues arise. It’s much easier to dispute a charge or ask for a refund if you can walk into a physical store or talk to someone on the phone. Of course, not every business is perfect, which is why it’s crucial to conduct outside research before buying anything.
- Look at the fine print: This can include scanning for typos or hidden fees.
- Use a reliable third-party to evaluate options: Never use a new website, or even a local store for that matter, without checking its track record first. Websites like Scam Detector offer authenticators that check suspicious URLs. The Better Business Bureau is another good resource.
- Be careful with your information: Scammers often ask for credit card information even though you’re not buying anything, typically in return for what turns out to be a fake gift card or some other fraudulent promotion. Similarly, never give out your Social Security number. Don’t drop digits unless you’re sure.
- Do an independent search: This is a handy tip for scams involving a giveaway. Instead of clicking a link directly, Google the promotion yourself to check its legitimacy.
- Sign up for alerts: The FTC provides updates on trending cons, which can help you avoid mistakes.
- Use a credit card: Credit card companies may provide fraud protection and give you a chance at a refund if you do get scammed.