staying safe shopping

Stay Safe While Shopping Online: Tips to Avoid Scams and Fraud

The holiday season is officially here, and while you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift for your loved ones, it’s essential to stay alert to the increase in shopping scams. According to an Experian survey, an alarming number of respondents (nearly one quarter) reported falling victim to identity theft or fraud during the holidays (Tietsort, J. R. (2023, July 11).

Scammers have become increasingly sophisticated, taking advantage of the fact that most Americans now do the majority of their holiday shopping online. They employ AI intelligence to create convincing phishing emails, fake websites, and even social media accounts, all designed to lure unsuspecting shoppers.

These online shopping scams often dangle seemingly too-good-to-be-true deals and discounts, pressuring you or your loved ones into acting hastily. However, falling for these tactics can result in swiping your personal and financial information, giving scammers access to your identity, bank accounts, and the ability to make unauthorized purchases.

Stay vigilant, stay informed, and protect yourself and your loved ones during this holiday season.
Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Becoming a Victim:
  1. Look for the padlock symbol in the address bar and ensure the URL starts with https://. If the padlock is unlocked or the URL lacks https://, it indicates an insecure site.
  2. Do your research before making a purchase. Check out the company or seller’s reviews and return policy beforehand.
  3. Think before you click! Always hover over email attachments or links to avoid falling victim to phishing attempts.
  4. Avoid using cash, wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency for online purchases. These payment methods are difficult to trace and may make it challenging to get your money back. Opt for credit cards or trusted payment services like PayPal, which offer fraud protection and dispute resolution.
  5. Be cautious about sharing personal information online. Only provide the minimum required details and never disclose your Social Security number.
  6. Don’t respond to unwanted calls and text messages. Scammers may try to trick you into purchasing fake products or services. Utilize tools like the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry or your phone’s blocking feature to prevent these messages.
  7. Resist the urge to act immediately. Scammers often create a sense of urgency to manipulate you. If you receive a request to change a password, provide bank information, or share your Social Security number, contact the business or person directly to confirm the legitimacy of the request. It’s possible that their email address has been compromised.

Signs You Are a Victim of an Online Shopping Scam:

  1. Suspicious Message: If you receive an email or text message from a seller or buyer asking you to click a link, open an attachment, or provide payment information, be cautious.
  2. Deceptive Marketing: Falling for scams that offer products or services at unusually low rates, receiving coupons for free items/services, or claiming refunds you aren’t eligible for can indicate a scam. You may not receive the promised product or service, or what you receive might not match the advertised description.
  3. Unauthorized Transactions: Keep an eye on your bank statements and credit card bills for unexplained charges or withdrawals.

Steps to Take if You Become a Victim of a Scam:

  1. Secure your accounts immediately by changing your passwords for email, online banking, and shopping accounts. This will help protect your personal information and prevent further unauthorized access.
  2. Set up 2FA (multi-factor authentication) as an extra layer of security. With 2FA, you’ll need to confirm your credentials before gaining access to your account. Feel free to reach out to the Sundog team at yourteam@sundogit.com for more information about 2FA.
  3. Take the precaution of freezing your accounts by contacting Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three major credit bureaus. Freezing your accounts will prevent unauthorized individuals from opening new accounts in your name.
  4. Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or visit ReportFraud.ftc.gov. By doing so, you’ll not only contribute to building cases against the scammers but also help educate the public about these fraudulent activities. Knowing how to spot the signs of scam can keep you, your organization, and your family safe this holiday season.

Tietsort, J. R. (2023, July 11). Do You Know How To Spot the Latest Holiday Scams?. RSS. https://www.aura.com/learn/holiday-scams
Photo by Nattakorn Maneerat from Getty Images Pro

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