If you are like me, you love shopping online! Ease of use, comparisons of different products, good deals, and plenty of reviews are just some of the benefits from shopping online. If I am not careful, I can spend lots of time reading about different products that I intend to purchase to ensure I get just the right one.
However, like other things in life, there are some risks to these conveniences. My goal is to assist you in managing these risks so that you can enjoy all of the benefits of shopping online without getting scammed. Below are some of my best tips for being safe while shopping online:
- No one intends to become a victim. “I am going to get scammed,” said no one! Every person I have worked with has always thought that they are smarter than the criminals are, until they are scammed. The simple advice, recognize that this could happen to you when you least expect it. By acknowledging this, you set yourself up to have a defensive mind. A defensive mindset will help you to avoid being scammed.
- If it is too good to be true, it probably is. You know what I am talking about, that awesome deal online that has you shaking your head in disbelief at the shockingly low price. You might even tell a friend about it in an attempt to confirm legitimacy. This part of the scam is known as the “the hook”. In other words, it is designed to grab at your emotions and get you locked on to this one thing, at this awesome deal. Be careful when this happens; when emotions are high, rational decisions are set aside. Before you know it, you might end up paying too much for a product you will never receive or giving out sensitive information. What to do? Take a step back, do some research and try to find similar products or deals. Ask yourself, “Why is this product so much cheaper than the others?”
- Know who you are buying from. This is as important as number two above. I love small businesses; they offer great products and great service. If you are buying something from an individual or a small business online do some research on the seller of this product to ensure they are reputable. Are there any average, or below average reviews? One or two are possible and okay. Another thing to look for is how long this business has been in business. This will go along with their reviews. The shorter amount of time, the more research you should do, especially if it seems to be a shockingly good deal.
- Do not use P2P channels for payment. I love using P2P (person to person) channels for paying friends and family. Zelle, PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, and others are great for sending money to friends and family but they are not so great for making purchases to businesses and individuals. If you are paying someone using these as payment, your dispute options are very limited if the transaction, product, or service is not what you expected. Money is transferred instantly and once the recipient has your money it is difficult, to get a return of the funds. My best advice, use P2P for friends and family and use long standing methods of payment for purchases.
- No one needs your username and password. Never give your username and password for any application or service to anyone. There is never a good reason to give your username and password out. You do not need to give out your username and password to make a purchase online. If someone asks you for this, end the conversation, chat or transaction immediately.
- Avoid public WiFi when making purchases online. Use your home WiFi, or your data plan when making purchases online. If the public WiFi network is easily accessible to you, (i.e. there is no password or the password is displayed) then it is also just as accessible to the criminals. The simple advice, pay a little more on your data plan rather than a lot more cleaning up fraud from a compromised transaction.
- Look for the lock or “S” “https” in the address bar. Again, look at the address bar and ensure that the website has a lock symbol in it, or a https. If the lock has a slash through it, or a red mark of some type, there may be a problem with that website’s security. There could be many causes for this so use caution. Try the website again or use a different device. If you do not see the lock or https, use a different company to make the purchase. A website that does not have the lock or https, may not protect your sensitive information properly.
- Report anything suspicious to your bank, and law enforcement. Prompt, accurate communication is very important to stop fraud. Be sure to contact your bank and law enforcement at the first sign of something suspicious. Your bank can help to stop the losses. New cards, account numbers, and passwords can be generated with ease. Law enforcement can help you with the investigation of what happened and how it happened. If nothing else, your information may help law enforcement link your occurrences to another case. What is the best way to report this information? Use the Internet Crime Complaint Center (https://www.ic3.gov) and your local police department.
Finally, have fun, stay safe, and do not let scammers ruin the festivities. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Wilson Bank and Trust is here for you. Should you need help, please do not hesitate to reach out to us online at wilsonbank.com, our mobile app, or call us at (844) WBT-BANK (844-928-2265).
Have another thought, tip or suggestion? Leave it in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!