Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner and everyone wants to get in on the good deals. However, busy days like these are also the ideal time for thieves and con artists to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers. Here are few tips to help you stay safe.
Avoid Phishing & Smishing Scams
Phishing and smishing are techniques used by con artists to obtain your personal information. Phishing emails ask you to verify your personal information due to suspicious account activity. Smishing uses a similar technique, but via SMS. Once you provide them with your personal data, they can use it to access your credit or bank account.
During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, con artists may also lure you to fake shopping sites. If you know the company and subscribe to their communications, their offers may be legitimate. If you don’t know the company, research them first. If you don’t see any negative reviews, look at their website for contact information, an “about us” page, etc. If anything seems amiss, shop elsewhere, preferably through a company you already know and trust.
If It Seems To Good To Be True, It probably Is
Many retailers offer 20 and 30 percent off on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but tread carefully if you see offers promoting 80 and 90 percent discounts. An offer that seems “too good to be true” may be luring you to a website will infect your computer with malware. Even the best malware protection doesn’t always catch these programs and it can take days or weeks to get them off your computer. It’s just not worth the risk.
Track Through Company Websites
Keep a list of which companies you buy from and only use their websites to track your orders. Scammers often send out fake shipping notifications stating there’s a problem with your order. Don’t click on their links as they often attach a virus. You can often spot these emails, because they’re full of spelling mistakes and they do not come from the company’s official email address.
Keep Your Receipts
If you’re shopping in person, you need to take special precautions in crowded stores and malls. Identity theft is a very real threat and when you’re on the hunt for bargains, it’s easy to lose track of what you bought and where.
Keep all your receipts in one location, such as a handbag or wallet, so you do not lose them. Compare the receipts to your credit card and bank statements as quickly as possible. The sooner you detect fraud, the quicker you can report it.
Don’t Access Financials With Free Wi-Fi
Don’t access your bank account or credit card accounts while you’re shopping, particularly not on free, unsecured, Wi-Fi. Fraudsters often set up fake hot spots and use them to access your passwords, credit card, and bank accounts.
Pickpockets Still Exist
On busy shopping days, old-fashioned pickpockets abound. They can bump into you and steal your wallet without you noticing.
Always shop with minimum ID and secure it an area not easily accessed by light-fingered thieves. A handbag with a zippered pocket or in your front pants pocket is a good measure against theft. Carry only one credit card, your license, and your cash, but nothing more.