With the holiday season upon us, there are a few basic safeguards you need to remember to avoid becoming a victim of identity fraud and theft. Online scams are rampant and it’s easy to get caught in one if you’re not vigilant in your security.
Some of the scams to be aware of this season include:
- Bogus digital greeting cards – I don’t know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with digital greeting cards. I think they’re a great idea and it’s always fun to receive one but at the same time, I know that they are often bogus. The fake ones are usually full of viruses and other nasty items that are downloaded onto your computer as soon as you click the button to view. Those viruses may grab user names and passwords and send them to the originator. In case you’re not sure, that’s a bad thing.
The best way to protect yourself from fake digital greeting cards is to avoid clicking the view button, even if you are sure the card is legitimate. Go to the greeting card company’s website and launch the card from there using the card number listed. This ensures you steer clear of any messages that may contain damaging content.
- Websites with deals that seem too good to be true – Scammers often create very professional and appealing websites to offer deals on products that are so good they’re hard to resist. The site looks legitimate and the deal is awesome. The problem is, the deal is phony and the scammer will take your money or credit card information and disappear before you even know what happened.
Always check out any merchant that you are unfamiliar with through the Better Business Bureau or another reputable rating company. Keep this old adage in mind, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
- A scam related to number two is websites showing bogus Black Friday or Cyber Monday ads – There are a number of websites that obtain access to legitimate ads for many stores. Unfortunately, more and more scammers are creating their own fake ads that look as good as the real thing. Clicking on the ad directs you to a website which downloads viruses onto your computer.
The simple way to avoid this is to only utilize known and reputable sites for viewing these ads. Some of the reputable sites include: blackfriday.com, bfads.net, dealnews.com, blackfriday.gottadeal.com.
- Fake notices of product shipments – If you receive a notice that appears to be from Federal Express, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service or any other shipping company, do not click the tracking button in the notice. These are often bogus and will download damaging viruses onto your computer. It’s better to pull up the carrier’s website and click tracking from there. Use the tracking number given in the email. If it’s legitimate, you’ll find out where you’re package is. If it’s not, you’ve avoided a major problem.