Christmas is just around the corner and last-minute shoppers are doing everything within their power to lay their hands on presents that they should have bought and safely secured ages ago. Driven by desperation, it is likely that people will turn to online platforms to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. This can leave them vulnerable to various online scams and frauds.
In order to help people protect themselves digitally as they carry out holiday shopping online, FBI in Oregon, as a part of its 'Tech Tuesday segment', has proposed twelve tips that shoppers can use to shop safely.
Here are those tips:
1) Do not go online without making sure that your phone and computer are up to date.
2) Refrain from using public WiFi. Logging on to unsecured wireless networks puts private information at risk.
3) Watch out for potential fraud indicators. For example, if a seller requires you to pay using wire transfer or gift cards, it is a tell-tale sign of possible fraud.
4) While buying tickets to events or concerts, choose only reputable sellers. Websites and marketplaces that offer cheap tickets could be counterfeiters waiting to make a quick buck off gullible shoppers.
5) Beware of non-delivery scams. Toys or gifts found on unheard of websites at very cheap prices could be part of a scam waiting to cash in on the desperation of last-minute holiday shoppers. It is likely that the items will never be shipped.
6) Pay with a credit card whenever possible. You will likely have more protections than paying with your debit card or cash.
7) Purchase digital gift cards directly from verified online merchants. Beware of sellers who promise gift cards below market value. While purchasing cards in a store, if the security PIN on the back has been uncovered and re-covered, do not buy them.
8) Make sure you use long and unique passwords for the most important sites – like your email and bank accounts – and update others to stronger options frequently.
9) Before making charitable donations, do basic research on whether they are legitimate non-profit institutions.
10) Let not stress drive you into making poor choices. Fraudsters love using social engineering techniques to trick you into making quick decisions you wouldn't otherwise pursue.
11) Beware of unsolicited emails, texts, or social media posts that promise you the chance to purchase that final needed gift. Don't click on these links or attachments, no matter how much you want to be done with holiday shopping madness.
12) Check your bank and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions. If there's anything suspicious, make sure you report it right away.
If you find yourselves, victims of a cyber fraud, report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov or call your local FBI office.