Shopping Scams This Holiday Season
No sooner than families are gathering around the Thanksgiving turkey is it time to start thinking about the holiday shopping season. With retailers promoting significant sales earlier and earlier in the year, competition for shoppers’ spending money is heating up well before the first days of December even arrive. While this is great news for buyers and store owners alike, it is important to be aware of some hidden dangers that holiday shoppers may experience when seeking savings on holiday gifts. Generally speaking, shopping in brick and mortar stores tends to be a low-risk activity, though shoppers should always be on alert. For the most part, though, it is online shopping endeavors that can present a higher risk of scams and rip-offs.
Check Your Security Settings
If you’re shopping in the comfort of your home, you may feel as though your transactions couldn’t be more secure. After all, you don’t even have to take a step out of your bedroom or speak to another soul to order what you want online. However, it is important to recognize that even though your credit card doesn’t leave the house, your payment information does, so you should make sure it is transmitted securely. First, always be certain you are on your home network when at home, not accidentally logged onto a neighbor’s. You should also be sure that your network, if wireless, is not open to other people and is instead password protected. You’ll want to be sure that you have at least the recommended security settings in place to ensure your information stays private.
Keep Track of Your Purchases
Whether you are proud of the deals that you are scoring or apprehensive about the amount of money you’re spending, it is always a good idea to keep track of your purchases. This not only keeps you aware of how much is in your bank account but can also help you detect fraudulent activity. While banks are getting better and better at detecting suspicious activity on their own, you can’t depend on them to be perfect. The only way to be sure that only your purchases make it onto your statements is to check them yourself. Although this may initially seem time-consuming, it is much easier to correct any issues sooner rather than later.
Keep Your Information To Yourself
Speaking of banks and financial institutions, a traditional method for scammers is to pretend that they are representatives of your bank or a company with which you have made a purchase. Once they have gained your trust, these individuals will try to convince you that they need information such as your username or password, credit card or PIN number, social security number, or other information of a sensitive or personal nature. Keep in mind that it is the policy of most financial institutions, stores, and other entities not to ask for information like that. And if you do receive such an inquiry, decline the request, then call your bank or the store at a number listed online or in a phone book to make sure you’re speaking with the right person.