Online Holiday Shopping! Let’s get started!
Holiday shopping season is the season for scammers and hackers. And since online shopping is exploding hackers and scammers are online too, ready to rob you of the Christmas spirit and everything else they can get their hands on.
Lets get straight to the point, according to the FBI, Holiday Season Fraud Could Easily Exceed $53million! Did that get your attention? Good! Last year alone the FBI received 17,000 reports of undelivered online purchases. And that’s only what was reported to the federal government. I am guessing there were hundreds of thousands of un-reported rip offs. Not to mention the packages stolen from porches.
There are some things you need to know before you go online shopping for gifts this season so lets get started.
- Shop only at reputable online stores you are familiar with. Be extremely careful of incredible deals that are too good to be true because they probably are. Your email will be spammed with hundreds of gift ideas, deals and sales; exercise extreme caution, most will be a scam of some type. Be even more cautious of sale messages delivered via text message.
- Make sure you use only your credit card for online purchases. Using a debit card can be troublesome because the money comes directly from your bank account. And once its gone, its gone. Score one for the scammers.
- Be careful of holiday charity scams. Scammers will send millions of holiday email messages asking you to help the poor, the disabled, veterans, children, the elderly, you name it. Be careful, if you have not heard of the charity then do not give them a dime. Go with what you know. But it gets worse; many scammers will mimic, copy or duplicate legitimate charity websites and phone numbers. Its called spoofing. When someone is asking you for money you should be asking the questions. Always verify a charity’s legitimacy through its official website. If you have doubts, you can check with Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
- Don’t provide any information to someone you do not know. Holiday scammers are not always after your money, or credit card data. Not directly anyway. Many are targeting your personal information to include your name, phone number, home address and other information they can use to steal your identity, take over your bank accounts and worse. Remember that a little information goes along way. Scammers are masters of using small bits of information to get more information. Remember that.
- Make sure you shop safely. Use a VPN when online especially if you are using a free wifi service at a local coffee shop or library. Another thing to look for is the “https” in the website address. This lets you know that you are on a secure website.
We’ll have a lot more to talk about as the holiday season progresses. This is just the beginning. So stay tuned.
Now you know.