From Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve, people are busy shopping both in stores and online. While you may not worry about shopping on well-known sites like Amazon or Nike, there are fraudulent websites out there seeking to scam rushed Christmas shoppers online.
Follow these tips and guidelines to avoid scams and stay safe online during this holiday season.
– If you are unsure of the site, open your browser and Google the name of the company along with the word ‘scam’. Generally, if there is a need to worry someone has already discovered the scam.
– Beware of emails that advertise FREE or heavily discounted prices on popular gift items. Do not click on these links, they often leave your computer open to malware.
– If an offer sent via email looks familiar and you are interested do not click on the link. Open your browser and type the website address in directly.
– When making purchases online always use a credit card as opposed to a debit card when possible. This will limit the liability and will better protect you. Even better, have one credit card, set with a low limit, that you use only for web purchases. That way if it’s compromised, you can cancel it quickly without affecting your other credit cards and since it has a lower limit, it cannot be used for expensive purchases by a scammer.
– Make sure any site you purchase from contains “https” in its URL. That “S” stands for secure and will let you know about the security of the site.
– Many sites require you to set up a username and password to make a purchase. Even though you will most likely be in a rush, create strong passwords that will help protect you from fraud.
– Avoid following pop-ups to online stores during the holiday season, these may be a link to malware. If the pop-up seems interesting, open another tab and go directly to the website address.
– Shopping on a new site? Look for their return policy and find their address/location that can be verified on Google Maps etc.
– Donating to charity? Mailed personal checks are the safest method of donating your money. Do not donate over the phone with a credit card number unless you initiated the call.
-Beware of charities raising funds for local firefighters or police. Verify the charity before donating. Always ask for the name and look it up to verify before sending a check.