Six Holiday Security Tips to Protect Your Identity and Money
Beware of holiday shopping scams, they won’t only take your identity and money, they will take your joy too. If you missed part 1 of our series, it can be found here.
Beware of phishing attacks –
In general, be careful when you get an email from a well-known company that looks like it came from the company itself. Links in unsolicited emails should not be clicked on, and be careful with email attachments. Do not send confidential information through email. If you get an email from a business that you did not ask for but want to learn more about the deal, open a browser and type in the web address yourself. Do not click on the link that was given.
Do your research on new retailers –
There are many ways to avoid scams when shopping online. One of the best ways of preventing scams is to shop at stores. you already know and trust. Consumer Reports has a list of things you can do to check out a new retailer.
- Searching Better Business Bureau (BBB) for prior complaints
- Note the URL – Is it http:// or https:// also is it .com or is it .co
- Look for Seals of Approval that vouch for the retailer
- FIND and Note a physical addres and a phone number in case you need to get in touch with them if there is a problem.
Look for https and padlock on every website –
Look for signs that the site is encrypting your information when you shop online. URLs using with “https:” instead of “http:” and a padlock icon often show this. If you see a fake padlock icon on a website, don’t believe it. Make sure the icon looks real and is in the right place for your browser.
Use a credit card instead of a debit card –
The CISA suggests that people should use a credit card instead of a debit card when they buy things. It’s possible that debit cards do not have the same level of protection against fraud as credit cards, but this isn’t always the case. Also, debit cards draw money directly from a bank account, which means that unauthorized charges could leave the victim without money to pay bills or other things that need to be done. You should also use your credit card when you buy things through payment gateways like Apple Pay and PayPal.
When choosing shopping apps, be careful! –
Some mobile shopping apps could be scams which collect a lot of personal information. These apps can gain this information by receiving permission to access your phone to make the app give a more “user friendly experience”. Look for apps that say what they do with your information and how they keep it safe. There may be no legal limit on your liability with money stored in shopping app or a gift card. Unless the terms of service say otherwise you may be liable for all charges made through your shopping app, leaving you with no recourse.
Do not share too much information –
In order for a store to do business, no store needs your date of birth or your social security number. So, do not give this information. Crooks can get your credit card number and some personal information, they could do a lot of damage to your identity and credit if they get both. Give out as little personal information as possible. This goes for the social media “quizzes” well – “Your super hero name is year you were born + name of your first pet = 1984 Rascal”. You just gave your birth year and the usual answer to a common security question. The rest of your date of birth can be found on your social media profile as public information.
What to Do in Case of Suspected Fraud
If you genuinely believe you have been the victim of a scam, report it as soon as possible to your bank or credit institution and to the police or proper authority. This will enable you to keep your losses down and start working on a solution.
- File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
- Report the incident to your local police.
- Report suspected identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission on their website IdentityTheft.gov