Let’s face it—shopping and conducting other online transactions is not only convenient, but it can also be fun. In the comfort of your own home or anywhere internet access is available, you can shop, book hotels and buy movie tickets—at any hour, day or night. However, it can be risky to do so if you don’t take precautions to protect yourself from fraud and abuse. Here are some common scams to look out for and ways to avoid them:
Deals too good to be true. Remember the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”? This also applies to online sweepstakes and special “offers.” When cybercriminals impersonate a business in an attempt to get your personal information or steal your money, it’s called phishing. Usually, these phishing scams are carried out via email or over the phone, but phishing messages can also come in the form of a text message. For example, SMS messages appearing to be from your telecommunications company may urge you to click on a link in order to receive a credit to your account. Once you click on the link, you’ll be taken to a website that mirrors the provider’s real site. Don’t be fooled. If you receive a text message, email or pop-up ad claiming you’ve won a prize, it’s probably a scam.
says Robert Carlisle, Senior Vice President, Security at Navy Federal Credit Union. Protect yourself by shopping and doing business only on sites you trust.
Be wary of any sweepstakes that requires you to pay fees, wire money or submit your personal information before you can collect a prize. These are most likely traps set by scammers,
- Legitimate or fake website. Cybercriminals register domain names that are similar to popular website names in order to trick consumers into giving up their personal information. For example, to mimic the website Amazon.com, a cybercriminal may create the domain name Amazn.com, in the hopes that if you mistakenly enter that in your address bar, your typo will be their payday. “When shopping online, always look for a padlock icon in the search bar. That indicates the website is secure,” says Carlisle. “Hover your mouse over the website URL to be sure it’s legitimate, and be sure the site URL begins with ‘https://’, rather than just ‘http://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’ and indicates that data transmitted is encrypted.”
- Malvertising. It may be tempting to click on advertisements you see online, especially if they boast a really good deal, but you’ll put your computer at risk if it’s a malvertisment—an advertisement infected with malware. To reduce your risk, be sure your security software is regularly updated and avoid clicking on pop-ups and other advertisements.
Security experts advise that it’s wise to completely shut down your computer at night to ensure no one can access any of your accounts. And, regardless of whether you shop and transact other business online or in person, check your credit card statements often for fraudulent charges. If you notice any unauthorized charges, report them immediately.
Navy Federal has the tools to help protect your identity and ensure your online transactions don't put you at financial risk. Navy Federal provides members with Identity Theft Restoration at no cost, as well as discounts on several Equifax® credit-monitoring products. If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to identity theft, call Navy Federal at 1-888-842-6328.
This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.