Online holiday shopping has never been easier. And in 2020, where people are practicing social distancing and avoiding large crowds at the mall, this convenience is a gift. But … it comes at a price.
And a warning, from the FBI.
“Scammers don’t take holidays off from swindling unsuspecting shoppers,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office. “There are a variety of ways that fraudsters try to scam you during the holiday season, including through online shopping scams. As more people shop online this year, the FBI is asking the public to know the telltale signs of these scams and protect yourself and your financial information.”
The data supports the caution.
According to the TransUnion 2020 Holiday Retail Report, a whopping 26% of Cyber Monday online transactions were suspected of being fraudulent.
Don Turrentine, Cybersecurity Operations group manager at Regions points to three steps to take before you shop online.
“Make sure your devices are up to date with basic security measures, only connect to Wi-Fi networks you trust and use two-factor authentication when it is available,” Turrentine said. “If you must rely on passwords, use a password manager to avoid using the same password on multiple accounts.”
Now, you’re ready to do some shopping. Just follow these tips:
- If possible, use a credit card instead of a debit card to make your purchase. This way, if something goes wrong with the purchase, you’ll be able to dispute the charge before you have to pay for it.
- If possible, use a credit card instead of a debit card to make your purchase. This way, if something goes wrong with the purchase, you’ll be able to dispute the charge before you have to pay for it. Many credit card issuers offer features similar to Regions LockIt, which allows certain types of card transactions to be blocked and unblocked using an app on your mobile device.
- See that offer for brand-name merchandise at bargain-basement prices? If the deal sounds too good to be true there’s probably a good reason.
- Similarly, watch out for unbelievable discounts or coupons from a third-party source. If it’s legit, the brand name will offer the same deal.
- Be wary of emails from online retailers that come from third-party addresses. Don’t click.
- Avoid clicking on attachments and links. They are often used to gain back-door access to your device.
- Before you click, do your homework. Find the official website – does it match up? You can also confirm the company’s legitimacy on the Better Business Bureau’s website (bbb.org).
“While convenient, shopping online is not without risk,” said Jeff Taylor, Regions’ head of commercial fraud forensics. “Take every precaution to validate who you are doing business with, the description of the product you are purchasing, and any return policies. As is the case with other types of fraud, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
The FBI also recommends steps to take if you become a victim of an online scam:
- Report the activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov, regardless of dollar loss. Provide all relevant information in the complaint.
- Contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity and direct them to stop or reverse the transactions.
- Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent.
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.