Many people are shopping and finding great deals and savings by shopping online for their Christmas gifts. But there are scammers who are also finding some great opportunities to steal and create problems for online shoppers.
Here are a few common tips that most people know but often forget when they get busy shopping for holiday gifts.
Protect Your Finances Online
Check your accounts regularly.
I make a point to log in to my bank and credit card accounts at least once a week so I can keep a close eye on what is happening. Not only does this help me avoid any late charges or fees, but it also helps me ensure that there are no fraudulent charges or unexpected purchases. It only takes me about 5 minutes and gives me a sense of security.
Respond to the source.
There are many scammers that will send emails and texts that at first glance may appear to be from a legitimate source. This week I got an email telling me that paypal wanted to verify my information. Even if you think that the text or email is worth checking into, never click the reply button or follow their link. ALWAYS go directly to the website or customer service number that you know to be legit and check it there.
Ways to identify a fraudulent email or text:
This is an email I received this week. I instantly knew it was a fraud for these 4 reasons.
Hello Dear, As a part of making our users information safe we tried to take a backup of all our users information so please follow the the link below and make sure to enter your correct information. If you don’t update your information within 37 days we’ll make your account as a limited account. So please confirm your information as soon as you can Confirm Your Information paypal@ margarita.ops. inter.net
#1. The paypal address was not from paypal.com.
#2. Hello dear. Really? No legit company will address their customers as dear.
#3. Please click the link below. This is obviously an attempt to get you to their site and steal your information.
#4. If you don’t update within 37 days, we’ll make your account as a limited account. Those words don’t even make sense. This is an obvious scare tactic designed to get you to quickly access their site.
Don’t assume a Fraud Alert is legit.
A friend of mine got a text that said her account had been flagged with a fraud alert for a charge of $700. She immediately became concerned but did the smart thing. She did not respond to the number on the text; instead, she called the credit card company directly and talked to the company she trusted. They checked her account and verified that no fraudulent charges had been made. She was able to rest easy knowing that she had not given out her information to a scammer.
If you get an email or text that concerns you, definitely follow up and make sure everything is secure. But don’t assume that your account has been compromised. Sometimes in the attempt to check the details, people will give the bad guys the information they are trying to protect.
Shop on Trusted Sites.
There are many legit places to do business online. But watch for the secure trusted logos and double check who you do business with before you hand out your credit card information.
Be diligent and aware as you shop online and use your credit cards. Protect your numbers, and make sure you don’t fall victim to scams.
Looking for more tips on avoiding internet fraud?
Here is a great resource from Fraud.org on How to Avoid Internet Fraud.
This article was originally posted in the Advocate Messenger Sunday Edition 12/15/13.