As we gear up for the upcoming “Black Friday,” the popular post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, fraudsters are also ramping up their attacks. The biggest shopping days of the year, including “Cyber Monday,” provide fertile ground for fraud. Industry experts expect holiday spending to reach record levels in 2023, an increase of 3-4 percent over last year’s spending.
In both cases, it pays to be prepared and aware of some simple tips to consider as you go about your shopping. When shopping in person, it’s important to remain aware of your surroundings and guard your purchases and your belongings like your wallet, purse and phone.
The following are some great suggestions for safe holiday shopping online:
1. Practice Good Cybersecurity Hygiene
- Don’t click any suspicious links or attachments in texts, emails, on websites or on social media. Ads on social media sites, as well as phishing scams and similar schemes, try to get you to click on links and give up personal information like your name, password and bank account number. In some cases, you may unknowingly download malware to your device.
- Be especially wary if a company asks you to update your password or account information. Look up the company’s phone number on your own and call the company to confirm.
2. Know Who You’re Buying From or Selling To
- Check each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure. A site you’re buying from should have https in the web address. If it doesn’t, don’t enter your information on that site.
- If you’re purchasing from a company for the first time, do your research and check reviews.
- Verify the legitimacy of a buyer or seller before moving forward with a transaction. If you’re using an online marketplace or auction website, check their feedback rating. Be wary of buyers and sellers with mostly unfavorable feedback ratings or no ratings at all. It’s always best to purchase from the seller’s legitimate website.
- Avoid sellers who act as authorized dealers or factory representatives of popular items in countries where there would be no such deals.
- Be wary of sellers who post an auction or advertisement as if they reside in the U.S., then respond to questions by stating they are out of the country on business, family emergency or similar reasons.
- Avoid buyers who request their purchase be shipped using a certain method to avoid customs or taxes inside another country.
3. Be Careful How You Pay
- Be extremely cautious before wiring money directly to a seller. The same goes for the faster person-to-person payment channels.
- Be leery of requests to pay in strange methods, like cryptocurrency.
- Also be leery of requests to pay with prepaid gift cards. In the gift card scam, a seller will ask you to send them a gift card number and PIN. Instead of using that gift card for your payment, the scammer will steal the funds, and you’ll never receive your item.
- Use a credit card when shopping online and check your statement regularly. If you see a suspicious transaction, contact your credit card company to dispute the charge.
4. Monitor the Shipping Process
- Always get tracking numbers for items you buy online, so you can make sure they have been shipped and can follow the delivery process.
- When selling items online, be suspect of any credit card purchases where the address of the cardholder does not match the shipping address. Always receive the cardholder’s authorization before shipping any products.
Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Be safe, have fun and enjoy some safe holiday shopping deals.
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The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered, legal, accounting or tax advice. Regions reminds its customers that they should be vigilant about fraud and security and that they are responsible for taking action to protect their computer systems. Fraud prevention requires a continuous review of your policies and practices, as the threat evolves daily. There is no guarantee that all fraudulent transactions will be prevented or that related financial losses will not occur. Visit regions.com/STOPFRAUD or speak with your Banker for further information on how you can help prevent fraud.