Frosty the Hackman is teaming up this season with the Grinch to scam people out of their money. Shopping online is a godsend, but it brings with it a pristine opportunity to be ripped off.
- Avoid Phishing Scams. Never click on links inside e-mails even if they’re (allegedly!) from Macy’s, Kohl’s or some other big-name retailer. Scammers can easily make an e-mail appear legitimate. The e-mail inside the message may take you to a website that downloads a virus to your computer.
- Thwart Visual Hackers. Planning on doing some online shopping on your lunch break? Some hackers steal data by literally snooping over the shopper’s shoulder and if your credit card number, social security or other personal identifiable information happens to be on display on screen, you will be at risk. If you couple the 3M company’s ePrivacy Filter with their 3M Privacy Filter, “visual hackers” won’t be able to see from side angles, and you’ll be alerted to those peering over your shoulder and from most other angles.
- Do Your Research. If you want to buy from an unknown little retailer, hunt for reviews first. Be alert to phony reviews to make them look great; identical reviews across different sites are a bad sign. Check the Better Business Bureau’s rating for retailers you visit.
- Be Wary of Free Wi-Fi While it might be tempting to double check your bank account balance or get some emails done while you’re waiting in line for the register, if you’re accessing an unencrypted network you are putting yourself and your personal information at risk for data theft.
- Credit over Debit. If you get ripped off, the money is gone the second the card is used. At least with a credit card, you have some time to issue a dispute, and the card company will usually give you a full credit.
- Review Your Credit Regularly. Since you’ll be using your credit cards more frequently during the holidays, it’s important to stay on top of your statements to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.
- Mind your Passwords. To increase your security across the web, update your passwords during the holiday season in case one of your favorite retailers is hacked. Even if these sites are not infiltrated, right away consider changing your passwords across the board to better protect yourself down the road. And while it is annoying to remember different passwords, it’s important to very them for optimal protection.