With many people turning to online shopping for the holidays this year – you’re being reminded to stay vigilant to ensure you don’t fall victim to fraud.

The internet has made buying and selling not only convenient but with COVID-19, it’s become the new normal. 

As a result, police are warning people to be aware that with online shopping comes the potential for being victimized by fraudsters. 

OPP Constable Jeff Handsor says if you’re going to buy online, it’s important to know what you’re signing up for.

“Do your background checks on the company or whoever you are buying from,” Handsor said. “Verify that it’s real, read reviews, and keep a lookout on your financial statements to see if there are any fraudulent charges going on there. Also, create strong passwords and change those often.”

Handsor says you can verify a seller’s legitimacy by checking online to see if anyone has reported good or bad experiences.

It also helps to examine the seller’s asking price to see whether the items you’re purchasing are counterfeit.

Handsor says if the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

If you’re feeling comfortable with your purchase and decide to proceed with your transaction, it’s vital that you keep track of your products. 

“Try and be home when they’re brought to your house,” Handsor said. “If you can’t do that, have a neighbour or a friend be there to pick up the package. If your employer will allow it, have it delivered to your place of work. Some stores will also offer in-store pick-up for items bought online.” 

Handsor says buyers are not the only ones who need to be careful, as people selling goods online also need to be cautious. 

He says the “Overpayment Scam” occurs every month of the year and with so many shopping online, it will surely be active this Christmas. 

If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, you’re encouraged to reach out to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.