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• Dec. 6, 2023

Whether you are shopping online for gifts for loved ones, ordering groceries for delivery, or picking out something nice for yourself, the pivot to online sales by many businesses has created more opportunities for consumers to shop online with ease.

While online shopping may be convenient, staying vigilant and doing your diligence to help protect your personal and financial information when making online purchases is important. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), in 2022, more than $530 million was reported in losses due to fraud.

But knowing what to look out for when shopping online may not always be obvious. For instance, some fraudulent websites may post reviews from "customers" that are not legitimate, while others may post deeply discounted sale items that they don't intend to sell in hopes of obtaining a customer's personal and payment information.

So, whether you're new to online shopping or are a seasoned e-shopper, here are a few tips to keep in mind to help protect yourself from fraud.

Shop with familiar vendors

If you've never shopped online before, a good place to start is with an established retailer you are familiar with, as they are more likely to have proper shopping and payment protocols, as well as customer service channels.

If you are shopping with a business you haven’t bought from before, always ensure to do your research ahead of time. It can help to read reviews or ask friends and family if they have any experience with the retailer.

The key takeaways are that the retailer – whether big or small – should be a trusted and familiar source to you.

Read the reviews

If you’re shopping for a product, be sure to read customer reviews, if available, as these comments can help guide you as you make your purchasing decisions.

While overwhelmingly negative reviews are often seen as "red flags" that could indicate the site is fraudulent, keep in mind that reviews may not always be what they seem.

For instance, if the reviews of a product seem poorly written, or are all very short and similar, that may also be an indication that the reviews, and perhaps even the site, aren't legitimate. They could be fraudulent or written by the retailer themselves. They could be an indication that the retailer is trying to sell poor quality goods, as scammers selling poor quality goods or looking to steal your personal and payment information have been known to post countless fake online reviews to make fraudulent sites seem more legitimate.

Be price aware

Saving money is often a consideration, and online shopping allows you to compare prices easily. But be wary—rock bottom prices that seem too good to be true usually are.

For example, there are fraudsters who post items for sale at unbelievably low prices with the fraudulent intention of capturing a customer's payment credentials, rather than actually selling the item – which may not even exist. Be mindful of any sale, promotional emails, or text messages you may receive that claim you must click on a link within a certain amount of time to take advantage of a deep discount. Often, when victims click on the link, payment information is requested in hopes of scammers obtaining your personal information, which is then used to commit identity theft and other forms of fraud.

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to regularly check your transactions for fraudulent activity to ensure any purchases were authorized by you. If you do notice purchases on in your transaction history that you do not recognize, it could be an indication that your card has been skimmed or your payment information stolen.

At TD, fraud alerts are available at no cost on all TD Credit Cards and TD Access Cards. If your current mobile phone number is on file with TD, you will receive instant text messages notifying you if we detect suspicious activity on your TD Credit Cards and TD Access Cards. If you respond to the text with an 'N,' your cards will remain blocked and you will need to call us so that we can investigate the transaction and file a fraud report. If you respond to the text with a 'Y,' we'll unblock your card immediately, so you can continue to use it.

Be smart about how you pay

Small local vendors or independent sellers that haven't established a fulsome e-commerce site may offer to sell and deliver goods and accept email money transfers for payment.

Customers should be vigilant and only send funds via email money transfers to people – or in this case, retailers – that they know and trust.

It is essential to remember that once an email money transfer is completed by the recipient—or if the recipient has enabled auto-deposit—it cannot be retrieved by your bank. For online shopping, it's always best to use a credit card or debit card to pay through a secure e-commerce channel.

Remember, fraudsters don’t discriminate, and nobody is immune to being targeted by a fraudster. But by staying informed and following the tips set out above, you can help reduce the chances of becoming a victim of fraud.

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