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10 Tips For Safe Online Holiday Shopping

December 15, 2020
With more holiday shopping taking place online this year, fraudsters and scammers are ready to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers. Follow these simple steps and be on the lookout for common scams to protect yourself and others this holiday season: 

1. Check the devices you use to shop: According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), you can shop online safely by making sure software is up-to-date, using strong passwords, and enabling multi-factor authentication.

2. Only visit trusted websites and download trusted apps: Fake or spoofed websites are addresses that look similar to actual retail websites. Does “https” appear at the beginning of the URL with the lock symbol? That indicates that the website has a protected network connection for the transfer of sensitive data, like payment and login information. Scammers have also developed fake apps that inject malware onto your device and once downloaded, may steal your personal information or lock your device, requiring a ransom to be paid in order for it to be unlocked. Be on the lookout for typos and poor grammar, which may indicate that the app or website is illegitimate.

3. Don't store payment information to your account on a merchant's website: In the event that a merchant's website is compromised, you run the risk of your information being available to a hacker. 

4. Never give your social security number to an online retailer or merchant: Legitimate retailers and merchants do not ask for your social security number. If you're being asked to provide it, reconsider purchasing from the website. 

5. Be aware of shipping changes and package delivery confirmation scams: Scammers may call or send an email claiming to be from a legitimate delivery provider. They may ask for personal information that they could then use to open fraudulent credit cards in your name. If you're unsure of the legitimacy of an email you've received, visit the delivery provider's website directly for any updates. 

6. Avoid using public Wi-Fi: If you need to access sensitive information or make an online purchase, it's best not to use public Wi-Fi. Check out our Security Center for more information on how to safely use public Wi-Fi.

7. Be on the lookout for charity scams: If you plan to make or give a donation to a charity in someone's name this holiday season, make sure you research the organization and be careful of how you pay. If an organization wants payment in gift card, cash, or by wiring money, it may be a scam. Visit the Federal Trade Commission's website to learn more about donating safely. 

8. Use a mobile wallet: Using a mobile wallet is safer than using a card or cash and offers a touchless point of sale payment method. To learn more on how to set one up, watch our Quick Tips video. 

9. Be wary of ads that seem too good to be true: When browsing social media and other websites, be cautious of ads, promotions, or contests offering deep discounts or uncommon special pricing. Scammers may be looking to take your money or use your sensitive information fraudulently. 

10. Keep an eye on your accounts and statements: After purchasing gifts, keep an eye on your account and statements to ensure that charges are legitimate.