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Online shopping safety tips

December 2, 2019

Woman shopping on her couch holding credit card surrounded by presents.

It’s official: Black Friday marks the official start to the holiday shopping season. But it also represents the beginning of prime scam season for the bad guys. This is the time of year when online criminals go into scam-overdrive mode.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the busiest online shopping days, and the bad guys are planning to get rich with your money. Here are some online shopping safety tips:

  • Never click on links in emails. If you want to shop at a site, enter that site address in your browser. There are thousands of fake sites that look almost identical to the real thing. Don't fall for evil-twin shopping sites.
  • Don't open attachments with special offers. It's a classic scam. The offer should be in the email, and you should be able to see it right away.
  • Watch for malicious ads and popups. Do not click on ads that sound too good to be true, and ignore popups that might propose the "best deal ever".
  • Beware of e-skimmers. This is a new one. Do you know that bad guys sometimes skim your credit card at gas stations or ATMs? Well, there is a new flavor of that — the shopping website you order from might be infected with an "e-skimmer," and they steal your card data when you check out. You can prevent that by using PayPal or Amazon.
  • Do not shop over a public Wi-Fi network. You simply don’t know if it's secure and who is listening. Only shop using a secure, trusted network. If you have no other way to shop, use a VPN which encrypts your traffic.
  • Be very careful when you see a free offer during the holidays. There is an explosion of all kinds of survey fraud and gift card scams.
  • Do not re-use any of your passwords. Instead, use a password manager to create hard-to-break passwords. Re-using any password is literally an invitation to get hacked.
  • Keep a close eye on your credit card and bank accounts. During this season, unexpected and strange charges might appear which could very well be the first sign your card or even your whole identity has been stolen. If you think you might have been scammed, stay calm and call the issuing financial institution for the card or account that may have been compromised.
  • Be especially suspicious of gift card scams. They can be a perfect holiday gift, but gift card scams are skyrocketing. Only buy gift cards from trusted sources.

Let’s shop safe and prevent the bad guys from exploiting your holiday spirit. Remember to stay alert when you shop online. We’re here to help. Call us with questions or concerns at 1-800-456-3000.

Think before you click!