Scams, schemes and fraud; they are the last things on our minds this holiday season. However, we need to have a plan to be aware and avoid fraud. If we do not have a plan, someone else will – and our information and money could disappear.
Here are a few simple tips to protect yourself from online fraud this Christmas season.
- Download your bank’s mobile app and check your accounts often.
By using the mobile app of most banks, you have immediate, real-time access to your account and recent transactions. Many mobile banking apps also give you the ability to turn off your card with a simple touch, if it’s lost or stolen.
- Don’t click links in emails. The scammers are very creative at sending out phishing emails that involve holiday deals. If in doubt, just delete the email.
- Avoid buying discounted gift cards. The offer of a $100 gift card at 25-50% off is very tempting from that online auction site. However, it could be a scam designed to steal your money.
- Know the retailer. Avoid online shops that offer the latest products at very steep discounts with little or no history. Newly established online shops may be out to send you knock-off products or take your money and never ship the item.
- Guard your information. Be very careful with your personal information. Always be conscious of what information you are asked to provide. Consider checking out as a guest to avoid providing more information than necessary.
- Pay smart. Never email or text an online retailer your card number directly. Use an online shopping cart platform to handle all of the card processing. It protects you and the merchant.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi. Avoid using public Wi-Fi to do any online shopping. It may be free and accessible, but it is also accessible to online criminals who can get your personal information.
- Look for the lock. When entering personal information on any site, make sure there is a lock visible in the web address bar. This ensures that any information sent from your device to the website is encrypted.