Cyber Monday Shopping Safety

Well, we’ve made it through Black Friday, which really started on Thursday and in some places continued into the weekend.  Now we forge head online to kick off Cyber Monday.  Unfortunately, fraudsters are also looking forward to Cyber Monday and the weeks to follow, leading up to Christmas.  If you are like me, you too probably are looking for some great deals online; after-all it’s cheap, fast, and convenient.  Scammers realize the convenience and hype and have connivingly come up with some great ways to get your buck without giving you the bang.   Always remember, if it is too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.

Scammers do not restrict themselves online during these times.  You may also receive soliciting phone calls or emails.  Remember, banks, credit cards, and reputable companies people do business with will never contact you and request private or sensitive account or personal information by phone or email.  Anyone calling and seeking charitable handouts by phone should be scrutinized during the holiday seasons.  If you experience these types of calls and have concerns, please contact us for assistance.

From now through Christmas, online scams will increase so staying informed is the best defense against these digi-thieves.

Some brief tips for you, courtesy of IdentityTheft911:

  1. Shop on secure sites. They’ll have “https” in the address bar and a yellow padlock logo to the right of the Web browser address bar. Double-click on the lock to see a digital certificate of the website. Review these certificates on unfamiliar sites.
  2. Make sure you are entering correct URLs. Hackers often buy misspelled domains to trick people into entering personal information.
  3. NEVER enter your Social Security number or passwords to e-mail and bank accounts as part of the buying process with online retailers.
  4. Use a different password for each online retailer, personal e-mail account and banks account you have – that way, if a hacker cracks one password, he/she won’t have access to others.
  5. Read reviews of a site before making any purchases from it. For example, Pricegrabber.com compares prices and users’ comments for retail websites, and Google Product Search, slickdeals.net and dealnews.com monitor retailers, site performance, possible issues and deals.
  6. Never save personal information on an online retail website. Retailers will offer convenience and better deals, but many customer databases are breached by identity thieves. It’s not worth the risk.
  7. Read a website’s return and privacy policies before making purchases. If there’s any doubt about fairness, find another site.
  8. Be aware of phishing email scams that include website links advertising incredible deals. Don’t click on them – instead, type the link directly into your browser.
  9. Use credit cards, not debit cards. Try to use credit cards with low limits to minimize the damage if a thief takes over the account. Or, use a “one-time” credit card number from a payment processor such as PayPal.
  10. Never send payment information via regular e-mail. It’s not secure. Make sure all personal information transactions are done on a secure site.
  11. Uncheck boxes advertising “additional offers.” These services are sometimes offered for a low initial fee that later increases to a high, recurring charge on your credit card. Also, they’ll issue your contact information to spammers.
  12. Make sure mobile phones used for shopping are secured. Back them up regularly and enable security features such as power-on passwords and inactivity time locks. Learn how to clear browser caches and, if available, enable data encryption and antivirus applications.
  13. As always, install and update antivirus, antimalware and firewall software on your computer. Update its operating system and Internet browser with the latest security patches.

From all of our families to yours, we wish you a Happy and Safe Holiday season!

- Chief Eric Blanchard