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8 ways to avoid holiday shopping scams

So what will you be doing this holiday season to avoid getting scammed? The scammers really come out of the woodwork during the holidays, waiting to snatch their victims. It’s easier than you think to avoid getting ripped off or getting your entire bank account sucked dry. Here’s how to avoid getting tangled in a scammer’s net: 9D

  • Always inspect every purchase on your credit card statements to make sure you recognize them.
  • If you must go with a lesser-known seller (because the product is very unique), then first Google them for any bad reviews. Keep in mind that raving reviews may have been set up by a scammer, but the presence of bad reviews is very telling. A clue that excellent reviews were set up by a fraudster is that identical ones appear on different sites.
  • Back up your data. Why? When all else fails and your data and devices have been destroyed by malware, a cloud backup like Carbonite allows you to not only recover all your data, but it helps you sleep at night.
  • Never click a link inside an e-mail that appears to have come from a retailer, UPS, the government, etc. Even if you just purchased something from Amazon, that e-mail “from” Amazon that contains a link is –you can bet on this — the work of a scammer. Clicking on the link may download a virus, or lead you to a site that lures you into giving your credit card number, SSN and other vital data to a cyber thief.
  • Sellers can also be victims of scams. A common one is that the buyer overpays the seller with a phony check, pretends it’s an innocent mistake, and then asks you to wire back the difference.
  • If you’re buying from individuals instead of businesses (think: eBay), meet potential buyers and sellers in public locations. If you’re buying, inform the seller you’ll initially meet without cash just to inspect the item.

Robert Siciliano is an expert in personal privacy, security and identity theft. Learn more about Carbonite Personal plans. See him discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

Post Holiday Online Shopping Security

When it comes to online security, don’t let your guard down just because the holiday shopping frenzy has passed. In fact, this may be the very time to put your guard up even higher.

4HThough it’s smart to have your radar on for the scammers during the holidays, the scammers don’t exactly go slithering back under their slimy rocks once the New Year is here. So here’s how to be safe online during, and after, the holiday season.

  • Never click a link inside an e-mail. Better yet, delete, without even opening, any e-mails with subject lines promising great offers, gifts, prizes, money or other hyped-up things.
  • If you don’t see the “https” before the Web address in the address bar, the site is not secure. A secure site always has “https” preceded by a padlock symbol.
  • Be suspicious of “too good to be true” offers that are tweeted or messaged through social media.
  • Do you shop on eBay? Then shop on eBay, not through e-mails supposedly sent by eBay. These are scams.
  • Speaking of eBay, always review the feedback of the seller.
  • Another thing to look for is the domain name of anything you received via e-mail. Scammers typosquat or cybersquat on legitimate domains.
  • You can upgrade your protection by doing your online shopping only with reputable, well-known retailers. Though some purchases will be an exception (e.g., home-baked chocolate chip cookies), other purchases like electronics, appliances, linens and consumables should be purchased from trusted merchants.
  • Shop online only when your connection is secure; Unless you use a VPN, never shop in cyberspace from a hotel’s, airport’s or café’s Wi-Fi connection. And make sure your computer’s security is always updated.
  • Never use a debit card online, because if a scammer takes your money, it will be gone that instant from your checking account. With a credit card, at least you won’t have to pay the bill if the fraud is reported within 60 days.
  • Never make an online purchase with your checking account—this means money being withdrawn before you receive the product…that you might never receive anyways.
  • Check credit card statements every two weeks if it’s set up online, and check every paper statement.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

7 Careful Commerce tips when Shopping this Holiday Season

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.
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-online-risks-sign-road-banner-image34668294

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Robert Siciliano is a Privacy Consultant to 3M discussing Identity Theft and Privacy on YouTube. Disclosures.

Online Shopping Warnings and Advice

Shopping online can be just as dangerous to your security as leaving your car unlocked in the mall parking lot.

2CConsumer Reports notes the following:

Don’t judge a website by its cover. A malicious website can look legitimate, even though it aims to nab your personal data, even identity, or sell counterfeit products.

Others aim to lure you in “with low prices they honor only if you buy extra items, or quietly adding unexpected charges based on fine-print disclosures they know you won’t read.”

  • Look up any unfamiliar online store on bbb.org (Better Business Bureau). Check the rating, any adverse reviews and confirm its address. Search it out with keywords like “complaints.”
  • Carefully read the seller’s fine print.
  • Don’t use a debit card; use a credit card, so that the dispute process is easier.

Defective products. Read the fine print; it may say that all goods “are sold as is.” This means you won’t have the right to receive a replacement for bad merchandise.

You may be able to get a refund within 30 days of purchase, but beyond that, many sites say you must deal directly with the product’s manufacturer (you’ll need to pay for return shipping). Another problem is when the website is not an authorized dealer for the product you bought.

  • Make sure the site is an authorized dealer. Contact the manufacturer if necessary. Read the terms and conditions.
  • Be suspicious of sites that you know or believe will send you tons of spam after your purchase.
  • Understand the site’s privacy policy before giving personal data. “Many retailers let you elect to receive offers or have your info shared.” Others will automatically spam you or share your information unless you uncheck the pre-checked option boxes. “And limit the info you provide to what’s critical for completing the purchase.”

Infected computer, or your payments are disrupted.

  • Never give out credit card information unless the Internet connection is secured.
  • Don’t peruse the Web unless the computer (or smartphone) is protected.
  • Make sure the retailer’s URL begins with a “https” (the “s” is necessary) preceded by a padlock icon.

Robert Siciliano, is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto and author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! . Disclosures For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

7 Shopping Scams Online during the Holidays

Santa Claus is coming to town—and so are online thieves. How might they nab you, and what can you do to prevent it?

2C1. Stick with familiar retailers. Unbelievably low prices are a red flag, since competitors are always checking each other’s prices.

2. Customer reviews aren’t necessarily the gospel. An unscrupulous seller may hire people to write favorable reviews. Though one clue is that the same reviewer has reviewed tons of products, other reviews are crafted more cleverly. Identical reviews on different sites are suspicious.

3. Phishing, anyone? The crook sends you the bait: an e-mail that looks like it’s from a reputable company, with a malicious link to a site that looks like the company’s, requesting you turn over your username, password or credit card number. Do this and the thieves will spend your money.

4. Carefully review credit card statements. Even if you never online shop, your purchases are processed online, where fraud can take place, resulting in unauthorized charges. Also, crooked employees can use your credit card number for purchases.

5. Sell with caution. You receive a check for that item you put on eBay, but the buyer “overpaid” and asks you to send the difference back via Western Union WU -1.44% or Moneygram. You do this—before you learn that their check is fake.

6. Meeting Craigslist sellers and buyers. Meet only in safe, public places. Inform the seller you’ll first meet without any cash, just to inspect the sale item. If you want to buy it, get your money from an ATM.

7. Don’t purchase stolen products. Request proof of ownership. Or, request the serial number and see if your state keeps a database of stolen items.

Retailers are also doing a lot behind the scenes to  protect consumers, by layering fraud protection tools including address verification services, two-factor authentication, device reputation technology and behavioral analysis. As devices (such as computers and mobile devices) with fraudulent histories connect to the retailer’s website, the business is alerted in real time.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247

Cyber Monday Launches Black Hat Shopping Season

Yup, the holidays are here. And I don’t know about y’all, but the last thing I plan on doing is walking into any store to buy anything. Other than to get food, most of my shopping is generally done online.

4WPeople always ask me, “Aren’t you concerned your identity will be stolen? Don’t you worry about always giving out your credit card over the internet?” And I say nope. Not worried. Don’t care. Never have been. And neither should you. Seriously.

BUT! You still have to do something first to make sure that, to a certain degree, you will not end up a victim of fraud. And there are things you should do after you hand over your account information to monitor your accounts.

But no, you shouldn’t worry. Just do this:

Secure your devices: No matter what device or operating system you use, your data is only as secure as its hardware and software. That means updating everything and locking everything up, too.

Operating system: Each device’s manufacturer provides frequent software updates with critical security patches designed to patch any vulnerabilities that were discovered by researchers or criminal hackers. Set critical security patches to update automatically.

Browser: Your browser needs to be updated to its latest version for the same reason an operating system does. Only enter credit card numbers in sites that have HTTPS in the address bar. That means there’s encryption on that page.

Wireless: Always use an encrypted wireless connection using, at a minimum, WPA or WPA2 encryption. Otherwise, use a virtual private network software like one from Hotspot Shield VPN.

Websites: Only buy from legitimate websites that you already use for shopping—sites like Amazon and eBay that you know are relatively safe. Once you stray too far off the ranch, you risk your device being infected, plus orders you place may never arrive and your credit card numbers risk being used without your authorization.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247. Disclosures.