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‘Tis the Season for Scammers

It’s the season for giving and, unfortunately, it’s also the time for online scammers to try to steal your holiday budget and threaten your security. Online fraud rose 22 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve in 2017, according to ACI Worldwide, a payment systems company. 

You may already know the signs of an online scam, but scammers are becoming more creative and it’s becoming harder for even the most cautious online users to avoid scams. This post will help you recognize holiday scams and protect your wallet.

Who are scams aimed at?

Scammers tend to focus their efforts on people who can be swayed by urgent notices, great deals and good deeds. Shoppers, especially, are in a rush this time of year. Between spending time with family, work and school activities, finding enough time to go holiday shopping can be a challenge. Many shoppers are turning to e-commerce stores to make finding their gifts quick and easy. 

Security tips for holiday shoppers

1. Don’t use public Wi-Fi when shopping

It’s great being able to multitask while you’re out and about. Public Wi-Fi has its merits, but you should never make purchases while connected to a public network. Anytime you need to use your bank account or card information, you should be extra careful and only do so on a secured network. Preferably at home away from prying eyes.

See: Public Wi-Fi Safety Tips

2. Only make purchases on secured websites

Web browsers make it incredibly easy to check that websites you use are secured. When shopping online, only purchase from websites that are secured. 

You can check if you’re securely connected by looking at the left side of your search bar. There will be a locked icon if you are and the website address will begin with HTTPS. This means your personal and payment information is encrypted or protected by security programs anytime you enter it on the site. 

When there’s no “S” or a warning icon, and only an HTTP, you need to leave the site immediately.

3. Buy generic items from well-known sites

We’re all for saving a few bucks, but when it comes to hard-to-find holiday gifts, it’s best to stick to well-known sites and only make purchases from reputable companies. You might spend a few more dollars but protecting your bank account is well worth it. 

4. If the deal seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Everyone likes a good deal. Everyone loves an unbelievable deal. Cybercriminals know this all too well. Check multiple sites when buying high priced or popular items. It’s likely most stores have similar prices, so if you find a site with a deal that seems too good to be true, scammers may be trying to trick you.

5. Use browser extensions for extra security.

During the holiday season, shopping ads are everywhere and there’s so many more popping up online. Add an extra level of security by using web browser extensions. Ad blockers can be activated on questionable websites to keep those pesky ads hidden. 

What to do if I get scammed?

Don’t feel embarrassed. Unfortunately, scammers will succeed often. If you’ve engaged with a possible holiday scam, here are some steps to take to protect your wallet and personal information.

If you’ve entered your credit card information on a questionable website or online store, we recommend contacting your bank immediately to stop and reverse any fraudulent charges on the account.

If you’ve signed into a site with your email and a password, you should immediately reset that password through your email account. Remember to never use the same password on multiple accounts. Next, install antivirus and malware protection software on your computer or mobile device. 

See: Password Management 101
See: Introduction to Antivirus Software

Finally, you should report any suspected cybercrime to Action Fraud. They will provide you with a police crime reference number to keep in contact with the authorities. Friendly PC takes your security seriously and we can help you find the best security solution for any device. Contact us today at (402) 965-3300 for all of your computer support needs.