Lee Symcox, president of First Fidelity Bank, advises shoppers to limit shopping to the websites of large, major retailers and double check that a retailer's site is its original and not a bogus one carrying a similar name.
The easiest way to check if a site is secure, he said, is if the top of its billing page has an “s” in its URL address, meaning the site is encrypted or secure. For example, https://store.com versus http://store.com.
“And when you get the statements for your credit card or debit card, keep an eye out for any unauthorized use and immediately notify the company or bank,” he said. Most cards offer limited liability protection.
Shoppers for high-dollar purchases may need the extra security of having someone verify the authenticity of what they're buying. Companies like Oklahoma City-based WeGoLook.com hosts an online nationwide platform of some thousands of background-checked agents, or “lookers,” who can be dispatched on behalf of consumers to travel to an item, take measurements, photos and video, verify a model number, observe any damage and more.
Robin Smith, co-founder and chief operating officer WeGoLook.com, said her firm has served more than 1,400 customers who've had their agents “go look” at furniture, pets, glassware, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, cars and even homes up for auction. Fees start at $59, Smith said.
“If a seller refuses to meet with you — whether it's because they're on military duty, working on an oil platform or something else — that's a big red flag,” Smith said. Her agents, she said, have verified that items exist, and found pet and cigarette odor on others, and even burned-out properties, she said.
WeGoLook also can perform tasks for buyers, Smith said, including overseeing the packing of an item and taking it directly to a shipper.
Some customers have given vacation packages as Christmas gifts and contracted her firm to verify the quality of properties, Smith said. “We can tell them if the pool looks like the pictures online or if it's under repair,” Smith said. “We also can do additional tasks like bringing flowers or a cake to the location.”
At a glance
Retailers receiving the most Cyber Monday searches:
2. Best Buy
Top 10 products searched
1. Kindle Fire
4. iPod Touch
5. iPad Mini
7. Amazon Kindle
8. Wii U
9. Kindle Fire HD
10. Ugg Boots
“In stock” searches
1. Wii U
2. Monster High Dolls
3. Hero 3
4. iPhone 5