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Stay Safe while Shopping Online this Holiday Season
Online retailers are making holiday shopping increasingly convenient every year. Unfortunately, that means fraudsters can take advantage of the hectic nature of the season by tricking consumers into providing sensitive information or installing malicious software.
Here are a few examples of scams you may come across:
Fraudsters send you an email and or ecard containing links to sites infected with malware (malicious software), or sites that ask you to enter sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details.
For example, you may receive an email from a fake Amazon account notifying you that your account is disabled until you use their link to reset your password. If you click that link, any information you enter is now accessible by the fraudsters.
Fraudsters spoof the appearance of a legitimate charity and ask for donations. This can be as simple as a GoFundMe campaign claiming to provide assistance to someone in need, but there is no way to confirm that it's real.
Order Confirmation Scams
Fraudsters send you an email letting you know that an order you never made is on its way. They provide a link to a fake website to 'cancel' your order, but ask for sensitive information first, which they can use to make purchases or take other malicious actions.
Package Tracking Scams
Fraudsters send fake shipping emails from companies like FedEx or UPS. The emails ask you to click a link which brings you to a fake website to confirm your identity, so you can access package tracking information. Once you enter that information, they can access it.
Fake App Scams
Fraudsters send emails with links to download fake holiday shopping apps, which can allow them to monitor your device's activity and access your private information.
Tips to avoid online shopping scams this holiday season:
- Only shop with retailers that you are familiar with, or do research on the retailer to make sure they're trustworthy.
- Look at the URL in your browser's address bar. Fake sites use pieces of legitimate retailers, with slight modifications. For example, you may notice you're shopping at target-onlinesales56.com or wal.mart127.net, and not the retailer's actual website.
- Check for the padlock icon in the address bar before "https://" which indicates the website is secure. Never enter sensitive information if you don't see this icon: 🔒
- Always think twice before clicking on links or opening email attachments – what may look like a message from a legitimate retailer or organization may be fake. Be critical and if it's suspicious delete it or report it as spam.
- When you receive an email with an offer that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can stay safer by going directly to the retailer’s website in your browser, instead of clicking a link in your email. You can also use the number on the retailer's website to call and confirm the offer is real.
- Don't make charitable donations to organizations or causes you have not confirmed are legitimate.
- Monitor your checking and credit account activity diligently and notify your financial institution of any suspicious activity. Use text alerts so you know when purchases are made.
Most importantly, always be critical and remember to stop, look and think. Fraudsters look for easy targets and if you follow these tips, you're much less likely to get tricked by grinches this holiday season!