The convenience of shopping online is irresistible. You can do all of your shopping from your easy chair and wait for the boxes to arrive. However, while you are avoiding the stress of shopping centers and holiday parking, remember to stay vigilant as a way to prevent holiday headaches from online fraud and identity thieves. Continue reading to learn a few tips that will help you avoid scams this holiday season, directly from our guest blogger, Sarah Mitchell, SeaComm Risk Manager!
In 2016 the FBI’s Internet Complaint Center received nearly 300,000 online-theft complains and Americans lost a total of $1.3 billion.¹
Here are some tips to prevent being taken advantage of this holiday season:
- Shop at websites you trust. Fake websites can be fabricated by criminals in an attempt to steal your credit card or debit card information and personal details. Look for signs of a secure website including the “lock” in the address bar; https versus just http; and Verified by Visa for secure shopping.
- Check out the business. Before purchasing at an unknown website or business, do some detective work. Is there an active Facebook page for the business; are there customer reviews; what does the Better Business Bureau report? One way to prevent these businesses from getting your information is to use PayPal (if that is an option) and to check out as a guest rather than creating a profile full of identity rich details.
- Beware of the unbelievable deal. While there are certainly great deals to be had online…if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you are looking at a reputable business and compare prices and information to other websites. Often times these rock-bottom deals end up with the criminals using your card information and the deal never being delivered.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi networks may not be as secure as your connection at home.
- Use caution when purchasing online on a public Wi-Fi network. If you are shopping online on public Wi-Fi consider installing and using a VPN or “virtual private network” to encrypt your connection to protect your online data
- Create strong passwords. If someone has the password to your account, they can log in, change the shipping address, and order items while you get stuck with the bill. Help keep your accounts safe with a strong password and don’t use the same password on multiple accounts.
- Watch out for email scams. Criminals often use emails as a way to scam information or card details from individuals. They often use unbelievable deals or limited time offers to get you to respond before thinking. Never click on emails (or links) from unknown senders or unrecognizable sellers. They could infect your computer with viruses and malware or scam you into giving out logins to websites or card information. Delete suspicious emails immediately and don’t open any attachments from individuals or businesses that you were not expecting.
- Protect your personal information. No shopping website will ever need your social security number. One way to avoid disclosing personal information is to not set up complex profiles on shopping websites and instead check out as a guest. If a company is asking for information you are uncomfortable in giving, find a better-known, more accommodating website for your purchases.
If you feel you have been scammed by a website or company, notify SeaComm immediately to dispute the charge and to block the card preventing additional fraud from occurring.
To prevent further issues with your account it is important to provide all of the details of what may have been disclosed. You may also want to change your password to your online banking as well.
You may file a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center www.ic3.gov. The FTC also offers resources for consumers who may have had their personal information stolen.
The holiday season is a busy time for everyone, and SeaComm hopes it will be spent worry-free, so that you may enjoy it your families! If you ever have any questions and concerns about your accounts, or our products, please call us at 1-800-764-0566.
¹ “2016 Internet Crime Report” published by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. https://pdf.ic3.gov/2016_IC3Report.pdf