Keep your holidays free of scams
December 13th, 2023
Lots of scams this time of year, lots of opportunities to make a quick slip and hand personal information to the wrong folks. Yes, the Grinch is on the prowl, and with all the online shopping we’re compelled to do during the holiday season—all the sites we visit, deals we chase, ads we click—it’s easy to become a victim. That’s the bad news. The good news is there are simple steps you can take to stay safe and keep your distance from all those bad actors who will, definitely, end up on the proverbial naughty list.
1. Be cautious with payment methods:
- Avoid unconventional payments: Stay wary of sellers requesting unusual payment methods like gift cards (especially pre-paid), wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. These are major red flags for scams.
- Stick to secure options: Opt for credit cards for online purchases as they offer better fraud protection compared to debit cards. Utilize reputable payment processors like PayPal for additional security.
2. Scrutinize websites and sellers:
- Verify website legitimacy: Look for the lock symbol in the address bar and “https” instead of “http.” This indicates a secure connection. Check for website age, grammar errors, and contact information legitimacy.
- Research sellers: Check reviews on reputable platforms like Google, Trustpilot, and the Better Business Bureau. Avoid sellers with negative reviews or a lack of online presence.
- Beware of suspiciously good deals: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid deals significantly lower than the market price or those offering unrealistic discounts.
3. Stay vigilant with online activity:
- Beware of phishing emails and texts: Don’t click links or open attachments in suspicious emails or texts, even if they appear to be from legitimate sources. Hover over links to see the actual destination URL.
- Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication: Create unique, complex passwords for all your online accounts and enable two-factor authentication for added protection.
- Be mindful of information sharing: Avoid sharing personal information like your address or social security number online, especially on unfamiliar websites or social media platforms.
Bonus tip: Keep an eye on your kids. If they’re young and relatively new to giving presents, they may find it all too easy to click on links and ads they think will lead them to great gifts. Help them shop; teach them the ropes.
Dreary stuff, to be sure, but online scams are today’s lumps of coal: best avoided. With a little thought and vigilance, you can stay safe this holiday season.