Are you ready for the biggest online shopping weekend of the holiday season? The bad guys certainly are. So while you’re looking for the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, make sure you’re also on the lookout for holiday shopping scams.
Be aware of the following scams and safety tips to protect yourself this holiday season:
- Never click on links in emails. There are thousands of fake sites that look almost identical to the real thing. If you want to shop a website that you frequent, always navigate to the site by typing the web address in your browser rather than clicking on a link in an email.
- Don’t open attachments with special offers. This is a classic scam. If the email presents a valid offer, you shouldn’t have to open an attachment or click on a link.
- Watch for malicious ads and pop-ups. Do not click on ads that sound too good to be true, and ignore pop-ups that make “best deal ever” claims.
- Beware of e-skimmers. This is a new scam to watch out for. Have you heard of criminals skimming your credit card information from gas stations or ATMs? Well, now fraudsters are skimming credit card data during online checkouts. Use trusted sources such as PayPal or Amazon to avoid this type of data loss.
- Whenever possible, use a credit card for online shopping. Never use your debit card to make purchases online. If you encounter fraudulent charges on your debit card, it’s not always possible to get a refund. Whereas, most credit card issuers offer greater protection against fraudulent charges.
- Do not shop over public Wi-Fi. Never send sensitive data over free or public wi-fi networks. You can’t be sure if the network is secure, or if others are spying on your online session. If you must use public wi-fi, be sure to use a VPN connection which encrypts your information.
- Be very cautious of “free offers” during the holidays. During this time of the year, there’s a huge spike in all types of survey fraud and gift card scams.
- Do not reuse any of your passwords. Not just during the holidays; practice this tip all year long. Reusing any of your passwords is an invitation to get hacked. Instead, use a password manager to create hard-to-break passwords.
- Keep a close eye on your credit card and bank accounts. During the holiday season and all year long–monitor your credit card and bank statements. Unexpected charges are typically the first sign that your card, or even your whole identity has been stolen. If you think you’ve been scammed, stay calm and call your credit card company.
- 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.