State Commissioner Provides 5 Tips to Avoid Online Scammers

Another state commissioner also warns consumers to pay state taxes on online purchases.

Cyber Monday may have come and gone, but there are still plenty of consumers looking to shop online for that perfect gift during the holiday season.

As such, Connecticut Banking Commissioner Howard F. Pitkin issued a reminder to state consumers on Monday to be on guard for scam artists when making online purchases.

“Purchasing gifts online is a very convenient way to find that perfect holiday gift,” Pitkin said in a press release. “Unfortunately, this is the time of year that scam artists take advantage of the higher volume of online shoppers.”

Pitkin offered the following tips to help consumers protect their personal financial information:

  • Do business only with merchants you know and trust. High-tech scammers use graphics or logos which appear to be legitimate, so be certain the websites you visit are genuine.

  • Be suspicious of websites that don't allow you to easily verify a company's legitimacy by clearly providing a physical address, telephone number and e-mail address.

  • Before completing a purchase or financial transaction, be sure that the website you're visiting supports secure transactions. Your browser should clearly indicate when you link to a secure location. Look for a URL that begins with https:// and a browser icon displaying either an unbroken key or a closed padlock.

  • Always keep records of your online transactions.

  • Always review your monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases.

“An online scammer will not hesitate to use your credit card number to go on a shopping spree, racking up bills to your account,” said Pitkin. “While Internet shopping has become more secure than ever, there are steps you can take to help protect your personal financial information.”

Protecting personal financial information isn’t the only thing that online shoppers should keep an eye out for.

State Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan issued a reminder to consumers that simply because an online retailer does not collect state sales tax doesn’t mean that item is tax-free.

“When online retailers fail to collect and remit tax on sales made into Connecticut, they pass the buck to consumers to report and pay state use tax,” Sullivan said in a press release.

Amazon.com is collecting state sales taxes this year, Sullivan said, but many others are not. Those who shop online are legally responsible for calculating the tax on items they purchase and paying it to the state, Sullivan said.


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