The holidays are stressful and full of hustle and bustle without having to worry about being the victim of an online scam as we are shopping for gifts for friends and family. Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday shopping season with Thanksgiving sales that start not long after the tryptophan is kicking in. Our friends at Bristol County Savings Bank have been kind enough to allow us to share with you their top 5 tips to help you stay safe while shopping online through the holidays. This blog has been reprinted with permission.
Although we should always be paying attention to our financial activity, it is especially important to be vigilant during the holiday season. Scammers know it is a hectic time, and look for opportunities to take advantage of increased online and in-store shopping, package deliveries, and other seasonal distractions. Remember that the Target breach, where over 40 million credit card numbers were stolen, occured during this time of year!
Here’s what to watch out for:
- EMAIL! Don’t open suspicious emails or click on links in emails that you weren’t expecting. When reading an email, consider whether the deals seem too good to be true. Check the spelling within the email; poor spelling is a red flag that the email is probably SPAM. Fake holiday e-cards are another way for hackers to send you malware. It is important to know the sender before opening an email. If you’re suspicious – call the sender before clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
- SHOPPING ONLINE! Always make sure you are at the store’s correct URL and that you know you are entering your credit card number into a secure valid site. If you have packages delivered to your home make sure you get the tracking number so you can keep track of where and when your package will be delivered.
- SHOPPING IN STORES! While out shopping, always watch your belongings, keep your purse on your shoulder and your wallet hidden. Never leave your purse in your cart and walk away. Watch your surroundings while making purchases with a credit/debit card. Check your accounts to make sure all your transactions match your receipts.
- SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS! During the holiday season there are going to be times when you and your family are out shopping, visiting family, at parties and more. Burglars look for social media posts stating that you are not home, so they can break in. Instead, when you go out leave a light or two on to give the impression that someone is home – never post on social media that you are out of the house. This is especially true if you’re going away for the holidays, as well. Burglars just love to know when you’re leaving for your 2 week vacation in the Bahamas!
- DONATIONS TO PHONY CHARITIES! Be wary of any charity that seeks donations through an unsolicited e-mail or phone call. You may even have someone come to your door looking for donations to what seems to be a legitimate cause. Never give a solicitor for a charity a cash donation, and under no circumstance should you give your credit card information to a charity you feel is questionable. A simple rule is to only give to charities that you have researched and previously decided you would donate to.