As you get a jump on your holiday shopping, scammers and thieves are also preparing for their busy season! With e-holiday shopping expected to jump 11-15% this year, the fraudsters will be ramping up their efforts over the season so don’t let your guard down.
Here’s how you can stay safe and avoid being scammed so you can enjoy the holiday season.
- Before you get into online shopping mode, make sure your anti-virus software is up to date. The same goes for mobile anti-virus software for your phone.
- If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Criminals lure shoppers with websites that look legitimate and offer unbelievably low prices to capture your personal information.
- With Black Friday being one of the busiest shopping days of the year, remember that distracted shoppers make easy targets for criminals. As you are out and about doing your holiday shopping, be aware of your surroundings, park in well-lit areas, and put away your phone to keep your hands free. Additionally, don’t leave your wallet, purse, phone, packages, or other valuables in your vehicle.
- If you’re shopping online on Cyber Monday, always look for the closed lock icon in your browser search window, and make sure the web address begins with “HTTPS” – the “s” means it’s secure.
- Stay away from sites that do not provide a physical address or phone number.
- Stay away from unfamiliar retail, travel, and charity sites or research them by searching for their names on review sites.
- Look for typos, bad grammar, and poor English. Professional sites use professional writers so this could be a sign of a fraudulent website.
- If you get an unsolicited email from a brand or organization, it’s safer to bypass the email containing the link. These links may direct you to fake websites or download harmful malware on your computer. Instead, open a new browser window and go directly to that website by typing in that site’s URL address or via your bookmark rather than use the link provided in the email.
- When possible, use a credit card. It’s easier to dispute charges and may limit the damage if it turns out it was a scam. Payments via wire transfer, gift cards, prepaid cards, and even apps like Zelle and Venmo don’t offer fraud protection.
- As you wait for your holiday deliveries, be aware of fraudulent shipping notices that look like they’re from known carriers like FedEx, UPS, or the United States Postal Service. Criminals often send fake emails with a link to a fake delivery alert which, if clicked, can download malware to your computer or mobile device. Be sure you only use the tracking numbers provided in the confirmation email from your online purchase.
- Do not give out your password, credit card, debit card, or account information to unsolicited calls, emails, or texts. Call the financial institution directly. Members Trust would never call unexpectedly to demand account information such as account numbers, passwords, PINS, Social Security Numbers, etc.
- We encourage you to set up online banking and mobile banking to monitor your accounts regularly – and year-round – for fraudulent activity.
Remember fraudsters increase their scamming efforts during the holidays so stay alert, look for the signs and act with an abundance of caution.