'Tis the Season

  • Published: Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020

This year, probably more than before, we will turn to the Internet for our holiday shopping. The ease of ordering online and having the items delivered to your door is a wonderful convenience. Your email inbox will be inundated with multiple offers from retailers. Offers will vary from free shipping to percentages off to bonus gifts. How can you sort out the legitimate offers from the scams?

Keep in mind some important tips for staying safe online during this holiday season and every day of the year.

Email offers

  • Is this a company you normally do business with? Be very selective about responding to emails that appear to offer deals with links and attachments. Instead, visit the store online. If the offer is legitimate it will be on the website.
  • Be wary of offers that seem too good to be true. If the offer is for a huge discount, free gift or money, it’s quite possibly fraudulent.
  • Check the reputation of unknown websites, including the date of origination. If this website is fairly new, you might want to steer clear.
  • Avoid responding to messages with a sense of urgency. “Act now before this deal expires.”

Text and voice messages (Smishing and vishing)

  •  Don’t respond to unsolicited text messages offering unbelievable deals. Delete.
  • Make sure you can verify the identity of the person on the other end of the message. They may be impersonating a colleague or spoofing the phone number of someone you know.
  • Don’t divulge any personal information or exchange of money before personally verifying the source.

Online shopping

  • Only shop at reputable sites.
  • Do not store your credit/debit card information on the site.
  • Use a credit/debit card with a lower limit. If it becomes compromised the amount stolen will be limited.
  • Use gift cards for purchases.
  • Make sure you are shopping on a secure connection. Only use HTTPS sites.
  • If you get a warning that the site is not secure, believe it. Get out.
  • Don’t use public wi-fi for online shopping. The risks of having your personal information stolen during the transaction increase significantly.

Charity scams - The holidays bring out the generosity in all of us. Share your gifts wisely.

  • Do your research before giving your money to an organization
  • Make donations using a credit card or check. Organizations requesting wire transfers or gift cards for donations are likely a scam.
  • Don’t fall for the urgency, sentimental or fake promises of rewards for your donation.

Resources:

Website Checker

IP Location-location and age of website

How to donate wisely and avoid charity scams

Online shopping tips

Holiday Shopping Season 2020