What are the latest online shopping safety tips?
This question was answered on November 18, 2021. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
The holiday season always drives online purchase volume to the highest levels of the year, which also means that those with malicious intent step up their tactics as well.
Elaborate Phishing Scams
One of the more sophisticated scams incorporates a fully functional website that looks like it’s selling popular and hard to get items at great pricing.
Creating a fake shopping website that looks exactly like the website of a popular retailer is pretty easy, so you can’t always believe what you’re seeing.
They’ll then take to social media and web comments to link to these ‘amazing deal websites’ to try to snare unsuspecting bargain shoppers.
Take a close look at the entire web address as fake sites often use elaborate tricks to try to hide the fact that you aren’t on the actual retailer’s website.
Consider installing a free web browser extension such as Trend Micro Check (https://bit.ly/3CBvaUJ) that will actively scan every link that you’re presented with to warn you when something is suspicious.
Retailers Apps Are Safer
Fake shopping sites are targeting those using a web browser to do their shopping, so an easy way to avoid being tricked is to do all your shopping via the mobile apps of popular retailers.
As long as you go to the official app store for your device and download the app yourself, it’s the safest way to shop online.
Clever Email Scams
Another thing to watch for are email messages that appear to be from a popular retailer with a tracking number or an attachment that claims to be your tracking information.
Always write down your tracking number when you make the initial purchase so you can manually go to the shipping companies website to track your purchases.
If you forgot to write it down, log into your account to get the tracking number from your purchase history instead of clicking on a link from any email message.
Also watch for emails claiming to be from the ‘fraud department’ asking you to verify a purchase. Never interact with any links or phone numbers in the message; go to the retailer’s website or app and log into your account to verify anything.
Get Burner Accounts
A residual effect of the online shopping season is that your email address and phone number are going to be added to more marketing databases.
If you setup a special Gmail account just for all your shopping activities, it will keep all the extra junk from hitting your personal account and if it becomes overrun with junk, just stop using it.
You can do the same thing to protect your cell phone number by signing up for a free Google Voice number (https://voice.google.com), which works via an app on your smartphone.
All the text messages and calls that go to your ‘burner’ number will appear on your smartphone via the app without ever exposing your real number to the marketing world.
Never Use A Debit Card
If you do fall for a scam and you used your debit card to make the purchase, the funds come directly out of your checking account.
Debit card fraud protection generally works the same as credit cards, but while you’re trying to get things straightened out, those missing funds could keep you from making mortgage, rent or car payments
About the author
Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on November 18, 2021
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