I recently received this email from Almyra S. Here’s what she’s asking:
“Hello Kurt, I have a question for you. Do you know if Cyrus online shopping is real? Or is it a fake… the things they have are super cheap. Like I mean, a laptop for $9.99, a TV, same price for a small one. I have to tell you, I bought several things from them over a month ago. Was supposed to get them a long time ago. Haven’t tried contacting their customer service yet to find out what’s going on.” – Almyra S. [shortened from original]
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It’s always important to be cautious when shopping online, especially if a deal seems too good to be true. I tried finding a website by the name Cyrus that sold electronics like TVs and laptops, as Almyra mentioned.
However, after doing a Google search and trying to search for it through the Better Business Bureau website, I couldn’t find it. So, unfortunately, ‘Cyrus online shopping’ isn’t sounding as legit as we would like.
The Better Business Bureau’s website can help determine if a business is legit. (Kurt Knutsson)
This is all too common, as the BBB reported that 37% of the complaints they’ve received in the last year have been shopping scams. That’s why I’m giving some tips to help you carefully vet an online store and shop safely.
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1. Check for website security
Always look for the lock icon in the browser address bar, indicating that the website is using a secure connection. You can also check the website’s URL to see if it starts with “https” instead of “http,” which would also indicate a secure connection.
Keep an eye out for the lock icon in the browser address bar, showing that the website is using a secure connection. (Kurt Knutsson)
2. Research the store
Do a quick online search for the store’s name and look for reviews and complaints from other customers. You should also check the Better Business Bureau website to see if the store has a rating or any complaints. If you see a lot of negative reviews and comments, don’t trust them.
3. Check the contact information
Make sure the store has a physical address and phone number listed on its website. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy, try doing a search on Google Maps to see if the store comes up. If the address is local to you, you can even do a quick drive-by to see if the store looks legit.
See if the store has a physical address and phone number listed on its website. (Kurt Knutsson)
4. Look for customer service
Legitimate online stores will have a customer service email or chat feature. Try contacting the store’s customer service with any questions or concerns before making a purchase. If you cannot get through or find a way to speak with a human representative rather than a bot, then you should probably move on.
5. Compare prices
If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Compare prices with other online stores to ensure you’re getting a fair deal. There are apps you can use for comparing prices, such as Amazon Shopping or Flipp, or you can simply do a Google Search and visit other stores’ websites.
6. Be cautious with payment
Only make payments through secure payment methods, such as credit cards or PayPal. Avoid making payments through wire transfers or prepaid cards, which can be difficult to trace and recover if there’s an issue with your purchase. You should also avoid payments from apps like Venmo or Zelle.
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7. Look up the business with trusted scam tools
Websites like the Better Business Bureau are designed to help you figure out the legitimacy of a business. Use them to look up the business you’re questioning.
8. Trust your instincts
Ultimately, your instincts are never wrong. If something seems off or too good to be true, listen to your gut and proceed with caution.
What other resources can I use to protect myself?
Protecting against clicking malicious links
The best way to protect yourself from accidentally clicking on untrustworthy links like those that may exist in some of these online fake stores is to have antivirus protection installed on all your devices.
See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for your Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices by searching ‘BestAntivirus’ at CyberGuy.com by clicking the magnifying glass icon at the top of my website.
Go to CyberGuy.com and click the magnifying glass icon at the top of the website. (Kurt Knutsson)
Protecting your Identity
Besides the BBB, you can also use IdentityTheft.org or call 877-438-4338 if you feel that your identity has been stolen or misused. Identity theft that has been made online can also be reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
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If you want additional layers of protection, handholding, recovery and theft insurance against identity theft, see my tips and best picks for Identity Theft protection by searching ‘identity theft‘ at CyberGuy.com by clicking the magnifying glass icon at the top of my website.
Tips to protect against identity theft are also available on CyberGuy.com. (Kurt Knutsson)
Have you seen these online store scams? Do you have any other tips we may have missed? Let us know.
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Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson is an award-winning tech journalist who has a deep love of technology, gear and gadgets that make life better with his contributions for Fox News & FOX Business beginning mornings on “FOX & Friends.” Got a tech question? Get Kurt’s CyberGuy Newsletter, share your voice, a story idea or comment at CyberGuy.com.