Scam Alert: Online Shopping Risks

Online stores make finishing your last minute Christmas shopping a breeze. But it pays to be careful when you’re trying to land a great deal on that Desktop Drum Set. Scammers have a whole arsenal of tricks to get access to your financial information. Fortunately, some basic strategies can keep your money safe.

Avoid Scam Websites

If you’re not shopping at a well-known retailer, pay attention to the web address. Sites that start with https are more secure than those that start with http. The ‘s’ stands for secure. A website might be fraudulent if:

  • It offers unbelievably low prices. They may be too good to be true.
  • The web address is different from the address used for emails. For example, our website has emails to match
  • There is no phone number listed for customer care
  • The website looks exactly like another popular company’s website but carries a slightly different name.

Use Your Credit Card

Your credit card carries less risk than your debit card when online shopping. Credit card companies are usually quick to recognize fraud. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account and you report the charge within 2 business days of receiving your statement.

Many credit card companies will waive this fee as long as you are quick to recognize the fraudulent transaction. Keep an eye on your credit card statements and immediately report any questionable transactions.

Use Secure Networks

A public Wi-Fi network, like you’ll find at a coffee shop or in the airport, it is less secure, which means it’s easy for scammers to see what you’re doing online. Avoid banking or shopping on public networks. Wait until you get home.

Beware Email scams

Using email to convince you to share personal or financial information is known as phishing. The best known of these is the Nigerian Prince Scam (you get an email saying a high ranking person is trying to remove funds from Nigeria and promises to pay you for your help. All you have to do is provide your banking account number and other personal information. Please do not fall for this!) Others are more subtle:

  • New chip card scams – You get an email that looks like it’s from your bank asking you to confirm contact or account info before they’ll send you a new more secure credit card with a chip in it. Chip cards are more secure. These emails aren’t.  If you reply, you share info with scammers. If you click a link you may download malware that can steal personal info and send spam.
  • Fake order confirmations – You receive an email asking you to “confirm your order” with a well-known retailer. This link also plants malware. Always go directly to the retailer’s website and access your account information rather than following email links.
  • Second-Chance Schemes – You receive an email saying that the winner of the auction you were bidding on has pulled out and offering the item to you. The seller asks you to pay them directly instead of going through the auction site. They never send you the merchandise.

If you think you may have already fallen for one of the scams and allowed malware onto your computer, don’t panic. Call Technology Solutions, Inc. (207-368-2880) or your local Tech Support Team today.



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