This year’s holiday shopping is unique in that it will be a cyber-shopping holiday year. This leaves people at an increased risk of fraud. With the COVID-19 outbreak, many more will be shopping online and hackers know this. In fact, as of March, Americans had already lost $13.4 million fraud linked to COVID-19 related scams.
So, for those who haven’t checked everyone off their list (we’re with you!), here are a few things to look out for as well as small adjustments that will make you a safer online shopper.
4 Best Practices When Online Shopping:
1. Use Credit Card
It is a safer practice to use your credit card when shopping online instead of your debit card. Credit card companies almost always have better theft protections and can insure what was stolen. Debit cards are more limited in what they will compensate you for.
2. Don’t Store Card Information
It might seem like a really easy and convenient way to shop but it comes at a cost. Having your information so readily available on your computer can be a big risk in the case of a hack or someone gains access to your device.
3. Guest Checkout
Always checkout your cart as Guest. You want to be providing the least amount of information as possible. Remember that anything that you provide, is extra data points you are giving them about you.
4. Loyalty Programs
Similarly, this is another way that a company gains more data about you. Unless you shop somewhere VERY often, loyalty programs are unnecessary ways for companies to track you. Remember that the more information a company has of you, the higher you are put at risk in the case that they have a data breach. We know from the past that breaches of stores like Target, Macy’s, and Adidas have affected millions of consumers.
9 Holiday Scams To Remember:
1. Gift Card Scam
In the first nine months of 2018, consumers lost $53 million in gift-card scams. This scam has increased sharply from $20 million in 2015.
Make sure that the gift cards you purchase have not been tampered with. Check to see what other gift cards look like, inspecting the seams, PINs and anything else that could be amiss. Also, online gift cards can be scams as well. If you receive an unsolicited email or link claiming to be a gift card, do not automatically open it. Investigate further and contact the gift card purchaser to verify they did indeed send it. Furthermore, if you receive a call from a service provider saying that you can pay them in the form of a gift-card hang up.
2. Counterfeit Goods Scam
A surprisingly low price and a sketchy seller are big red flags. When a price seems “too good to be true” on a name brand product, it’s likely to be a fake. Make sure to purchase products directly from the brand owner and their trusted authorized retailers. If a manufacturer can’t profit with such a low price, that’s a good clue you aren’t getting the real deal.
3. E-Holiday Card Scam
Few people think before opening up an e-holiday card. If you open a “fake” one, it can install malware on your device or steal your personal information. Spelling mistakes are a common sign of a fake e-card as well as if the sender is not someone you know. You should always avoid clicking on anything from a source that you don’t know. Be on the look out for malware on your device by keeping your security software up to date.
4. Corrupt Coupon Scam
The internet loves to overwhelm you with hot deals and sales. Many of those are actually fake deals created by hackers trying to entice you with a sense of urgency such as “Offer Ends Soon!”. Beware that the link to the sought after coupon may actually be dangerous malware that can infect your device and steal your identity. If the coupon asks for your personal information or forces you to buy something in order to receive a deal later it may be a scam.
5. Charity Scam
Many people feel that the holidays are a great time to give back. Don’t be easily influenced by social media posts claiming to give money to charity. The best bet for charitable donations is to give directly to a reputable and known organization.
6. Shipping/Billing Fraud
Billing fraud occurs when the victim’s address is connected to the payment account used to purchase the stolen goods. This form of fraud increased by 34% in the last year.
Shipping fraud occurs when a criminal uses their address for the delivery of stolen goods purchased online. Rates of shipping fraud increased 37% in 2017. From a regional perspective, the Western U.S. saw a nearly 60% increase in attack rates for shipping fraud, according to Experian.
7. Travel Scams
Although there are not much travel being done these days, if you are trying to book something for the future, do not click on suspicious ads claiming to have travel sales for you. Given the current climate, it is easy to think that what is usally a “too good to be true” deal, might actually be true. Stick to reputable travel websites such as Kayak.com, Expedia, or Google Flights that offer options for comparing competitive pricing. Additionally, it is always a good idea to purchase your tickets directly through the airline’s website when you are ready to book your trip.
What to do if you’re a victim of Identity Theft
Contact iLOCK360. As an iLOCK360 paid subscriber, our certified U.S.-based Identity Theft Restoration Specialists will work on your behalf to restore your good name. A Specialist assigned to your individual case will guide you through each step of the restoration process and ensure that your case is handled with care. With your consent, the Restoration Specialist can help you with closing accounts, re-ordering cards, placing a fraud alert with each of the three credit bureaus, and removing fraudulent activity from your credit report. Restoration Specialists offer robust case knowledge in both credit and non-credit fraud situations. Our dependable identity restoration services will reduce the time and effort you’ll spend restoring your good name.
Call 855-287-8888 to speak with an Identity Theft Restoration Specialist.
How Else Can iLOCK360 Help?
Did you know that your iLOCK360 membership can help alert you if your personal information may have been bought or sold by hackers online?
iLOCK360’s proprietary CyberAlert can help you monitor your identity 24/7/365 for possible compromise on the Dark Web (i.e. the anonymous online marketplace where illicit activities occur). If your monitored information is found bought or sold online you will be automatically alerted so that action may be taken to address the issue.
CyberAlert’s available monitored features include: Bank Accounts, Credit/Debit Cards, Email Addresses, Phone Numbers, Medical ID Numbers, Social Security Number, Driver’s License and Passport.
Want to know if your information may have been compromised by a cybercriminal on the Dark Web? Be sure to log into your iLOCK360 account to setup this feature today.