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Online Shopping Season Brings Out Holiday Fraud

As 2020 both flies and creeps by, believe it or not, the holiday online shopping season is upon us. This is your annual reminder to be on the lookout for all kinds of cyber creeps who are out there waiting to take advantage of all of us just wanting some cheer with our shopping excitement in an otherwise uncertain time. As that time slowly ticks away, or rushes by, depending on your point of view, the hackers continue to improve upon their various cyber scams. Online scams are becoming harder to detect, but it’s important to remain vigilant.
Always topping the list of ways cyber criminals take advantage of us is phishing. This done in a whole host of ways these days, including:
  • Internet advertisements
  • Social media advertisements
  • Email messages
  • Phone messages
  • Text/SMS messages

But don’t fret! There are some ways you can take matters into your own shopping fingertips to mitigate your risk of becoming a holiday shopping scam victim.

If you are unsure about an email’s or advertisement’s authenticity then you should independently verify it, delete it right away, or just not click on it. This means do some research before taking any action.

If you must check out something you see on the side of your social media feed, type the company name into the browser manually, rather than clicking links.

Protect your payment card numbers. If you have an option to use a payment service such as Apple or Google Pay or even PayPal, consider using them. They protect your account numbers from prying eyes. Plus, you don’t even have to take your card out of your wallet.

Speaking of payment cards, if you are out and about and doing an in-person purchase, use your payment card as a credit, rather than debit. This provides more protection for you in case the number is stolen.
Check your payment statements more often during this time period than you might otherwise. If you haven’t downloaded your financial institution’s mobile app, consider doing this. It makes it simple to check charges. By and large, mobile apps downloaded from the official app stores are safe to use. Just make sure to verify it is the correct app developed by or specifically for your financial institution. If you can’t be sure, contact customer service for assistance.
On the subject of downloading apps, stick to those official app stores. Don’t sideload them—meaning to get them from third-party sites.

With the holiday season upon us, cybersecurity professionals advise extra caution when spreading holiday cheer.