Posted on November 4, 2016 in Crime
The holidays are a very busy time of year for most Americans and, unfortunately, some people take the hustle and bustle of the holiday season as an opportunity to scam and defraud unwary holiday shoppers. When you start your online holiday shopping, stay vigilant with your finances. Don’t let the stress of the holiday season distract you from good habits.
Online holiday shopping has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years. The internet allows holiday shoppers to avoid crowded department stores and shopping malls while offering the same great deals you find in physical stores. As online shopping grows in popularity, so do the attempts by criminals to take advantage of unwary shoppers.
Some criminals create fake websites that mimic legitimate retailers. They do this to lure shoppers to their site for amazing deals. The customer believes he or she found a great deal, when in fact the site simply steals credit card information and other personal details.
A Phoenix wire fraud lawyer knows if you’re shopping online and see an unfamiliar site or a holiday special that seems too good to be true, it could very well be a scam and advises extensive research of a website prior to purchasing. Do some research online and see if other people have commented on their experiences with these sites before making any purchases. If you’re looking at smaller businesses online, make sure they are registered with the Better Business Bureau and verify their legitimacy before making any purchases.
There are also a few other best practices you should follow when shopping online. For example, you’re probably aware that most website URLs begin with “http://”. However, some URLs begin with “https://”. The “s” in these URLs indicates that the site is secure, which is a good indication that it is a legitimate website. Also, be wary of the internet connection you use to shop online. If you enjoy browsing the web in your local coffee shop or diner, be wary of free public Wi-Fi networks. These are juicy targets for some scammers, who use the free hotspots to steal personal and financial information from users.
The “s” in the URL is also an indication that if you use a credit card, your card’s information will be encrypted. Encryption is a way to make data unreadable except for authorized parties. When you shop on a secure website, you and the retailer are the only parties that will have access to your credit card information.
If you use a smartphone to browse and shop, keep your phone’s operating software and your apps up-to-date. Some hackers find exploits in older versions of apps and phone software and use them to steal users’ information. When companies find these exploits, they usually create a “patch” to fix them and prevent any further issues. By keeping your smartphone software and apps up-to-date, you lower your chances of becoming a target.
You can also use a payment site to handle your purchases. Services like PayPal and Apple Pay act as third-parties, so you deposit money into your account on the site, and the retailer sends a payment request to that site. No party shares your personal financial information, adding another layer of security onto your transactions.
Finally, some of the best things you can do to safeguard your credit card information are to sign up for alerts from your credit card company and keep careful tabs on your transactions. When you use alerts, your credit card company will send an email, text message, or automated voice call to verify whether or not you made a purchase. This typically applies to larger-than-normal or successive purchases.
During the holidays, regularly take a few moments to check your transaction history to make sure everything is legitimate. If you notice any fraudulent transactions or other irregularities, contact your credit card company immediately and report it. By staying vigilant, keeping tabs on your transactions, and making good choices about where to shop, you can avoid serious financial disasters this holiday season.