Hopefully you ate all of your Thanksgiving holiday food and are ready to start your holiday shopping with a bang. Based on reports I read over the weekend, Black Friday was a great success for the brick and mortar stores in the US.
A lot of people started their shopping at midnight last Friday or got up to get in line for bargains at 4:00am. As for me, I slept in on Friday morning and spent a great day with my family and friends.
Today is Cyber Monday and I think it’s a little easier on the feet and constitution than Black Friday. I would rather go online and go after all the bargains, rather than waiting in line and fighting all the crazy people out there.
With all the online shopping expected, you can be sure the online scams will come fast and furious. Hopefully you are aware of most of the common ones, like phishing, Nigerian emails, “click here for a great offer”, your FedEx package arrived, instant loans, etc. Online scammers try to game the search engines with “legitimate” bargains. You search for a bargain and the link takes you to a site that looks legitimate. Check to see that it is a legitimate merchant before you buy anything. Some are just sites with malware.
Two of the worst I’ve seen recently are emails pretending to be soldiers asking for help for a variety of causes and ones that look like they come from a law enforcement agency. Both try to play on your emotions to help someone in need.
I got an email that supposedly came from the FBI asking me to assist them in an investigation. The email asked me to review the attached document and click on a link. A quick look at the sending email address tells me this is bogus. If the FBI or any other law enforcement agency wanted to contact me, they wouldn’t send me an email.
Another area to look out for are social media scams. These are phishing scams that ask you to click on a link or call a phone number and frequently target phones. You will get a text message or something from your Twitter feed or Facebook updates. Just make sure you know it’s legitimate before taking action. The whole goal of these scams is to separate you from your money.
Here are some tips to keep you safe while online shopping:
- Do not click on links in any unsolicited email or text message.
- Do not respond to emergency emails asking for money or any action, unless you are certain of the sender.
- If you receive a request for personal information from a business, verify the legitimacy of the request by calling the company requesting the information.
- Make sure a site uses SLL during any online transaction. Check for HTTPS in the URL in your browser address bar and a Cybertrust Certificate Verification link or similar on the website.
- Don’t log into an account on a website from an open wireless network.
- Always compare the link in an email to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
- Don’t respond to an offer that seems too good to be true; it probably is.
- Do not enter personal or financial information into any forms on a website, unless you know it’s a merchant you can trust.
- Have fun
Shopping online is a great way to get some bargains and save time. Enjoy yourself, but keep safe. You worked hard for your money, so don’t let scammers get you to part with it.
Photo credit Tim & Selena Middleton