During the holiday season, we tend to make a lot more purchases online for travel and gifts, so it’s especially important to be vigilant about protecting your money. Here are some of the most common scams to watch for:
- Fake Websites and Apps. Scammers create fake websites, which are so similar to the sites of popular retailers; it easily tricks consumers into providing payment information. The scammers take your information and your money, but you never receive the products. Be careful of apps or websites that ask for suspicious permissions, such as granting access to your contacts, text messages, stored passwords, or credit card information. Also,poor grammar or misspelled words in an apps’ description or on a website is a red flag that it is not legitimate.
- Email Links. Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or emails from unfamiliar sources. The links may lead to an illegitimate website attempting to get you to enter your credit card or other personal information. Be on the lookout for emails that have typos or other obvious mistakes. In addition, be skeptical of email attachments described as coupons, rebates, or payment forms – they could include malware. And avoid email offers that seem “too good to be true.” If an email promises popular items for free or a surprisingly low price, it is probably a scam.
- Making Payments on Unsecure Sites. Before paying for a purchase online, make sure the website you’re on has “https” at the beginning of its URL with a lock symbol. This means the site has a protected network connection. Websites with “http” at the beginning of the URL with no “s” are more vulnerable to attacks by scammers who steal credit card information by monitoring network traffic.
- Using Public Wi-Fi to Shop or Access Sensitive Information. Many restaurants, hotels, libraries, and other places offer free public Wi-Fi, which is convenient when you’re on the go. However, these networks may not be secure (since they either do not require a password or provide the same generic password to all customers for access) and may expose your personal and banking information to scammers looking to steal names, social security numbers, and bank account numbersIf you’re using shopping apps, focus only on official retailer apps found on the retailer’s website or a reputable app marketplace, which offer stronger security.Never provide your credit card information unless you are on a secure site, showing “https” at the beginning of the URL and the lock symbol.
- Monitor credit card bills and bank statements as well as app and other online transactions for unauthorized purchases or withdrawals. Immediately contact your bank if you see anything suspicious. In addition, you may want to consider signing up for alert services.