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Don't Let Fraud Steal Your Holiday Joy
Whether you’re naughty or nice, if you’re not careful, holiday shopping fraud can find you. The holidays bring about a high volume of people shopping online and unfortunately, that also means it is “go time” for online scammers. Take these seven tips with you the next time you go online to shop and avoid becoming a victim of fraud!
Protect before you hit select.
Before you tackle your shopping list, make sure your computer and mobile phone’s software are up-to-date. Check security software, your operating system, computer programs, and apps for any updates that need to be installed. For help, call a representative from your internet provider or visit a tech support service. There are also products available that scan your device for viruses and recommend security patches. Updating and reviewing your protections should be a regular occurrence, but it should especially be done during times when you could be most susceptible to fraud, like during the holidays.
Slow down and use caution.
Criminals tend to target holiday shoppers because they’re busy, distracted, and shopping more than usual. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday bustle but be sure to be mindful. No matter whether you’re shopping online or in-person, pay attention to your surroundings, who’s asking you for information, and why. Don’t give out your personal information without authenticating the source, and be sure to keep an eye on your balances — not only on your credit cards but also accounts like Apple Pay®, Venmo, and other payment sources.
Some things are best done privately.
Avoid making purchases while connected to public Wi-Fi. Hackers often connect to public wireless to prey on others’ devices. Keep your personal identification information, such as your license and Social Security number, and other personal information such as credit card numbers or account logins, safe by not clicking on suspicious emails, links, or pop-up windows. Be careful what apps you download — you should only download apps from your device’s certified app store, where you can confirm that the publisher is trusted and the app has good security settings.
Take care with what’s been shared.
Social media ads are designed to make you want to click on them! To be sure the deal you are after is legitimate, even if it is shared by friends or family, avoid clicking on the ad itself and do some research online in a separate app or browser from the ad to verify the ad. If something seems too good to pass up – it probably is. Go directly to that company’s website to look for the deal and only shop from trusted websites. It is also a good idea to verify ads before you share any potential bargains with others online— you don’t want to share anything that’s intentionally created to deceive and mislead.
Fake surveys and coupons are real.
You may not believe in Santa, but you should believe that scammers love to use fake surveys and coupons to compromise your information. Scammers often will entice users with an amazing opportunity that requires you to enter sensitive information to redeem it. According to the Better Business Bureau, one of the new ways they are doing this is by setting up phony surveys and fake coupon sites. They may offer you free products, a discount, or other rewards for participating, but end up taking your full name, address, email, and more in the process. Remember, unsolicited text messages and emails are usually not from trustworthy sources. And if the reward is too good to be true (a $100 gift card or 90% discount for a two-minute survey) it probably is. Many scam surveys and coupon sites are very vague about their purpose and who is running them. If you can’t figure out who or where the survey is coming from, don’t take it.
When in doubt, check with your bank.
Be careful of fraudsters posing as bank representatives. If someone calls you saying they are from your bank, do not give them any information. Hang up and call your bank’s contact line (you can find this in your bank statement, online, or often on the back of your card). This is an excellent way to verify your bank truly needs the information.
Safe is best.
Spotting fraud can be tricky, so be sure to keep a close eye on your financials and regularly check accounts, statements, and balances to ensure your information has not been compromised. It’s a good idea to find out from your bank what features, or policies are available to help keep you protected. You should also know what steps to take if someone tries to use your card information. Knowing what you will need to do ahead of time makes addressing the fraud and protecting your accounts after an incident of fraud much easier and efficient. You can also consider enrolling in identity theft services to provide account monitoring and peace of mind. And lastly, don’t be afraid to speak up, if something looks off, report it or call your bank to inquire about it. It is much better to be safe than sorry in these situations.
Information Source: Commerce Bank