The United States Department of Treasury’s Office of Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection recently issued an advisory with tips for consumers to protect themselves from scams and fraud. From Cyber Monday to the rest of the holiday shopping season and beyond, it’s a good list of practices to follow to keep your money and information safe.
Follow these tips to avoid common holiday scams:
- Buy only from reputable merchants.
- Stay informed of common scamming tactics, share your knowledge with others, and remain skeptical of unsolicited calls, emails, and texts, especially those creating a sense of urgency.
- Exercise caution when receiving unexpected phone calls and emails from your financial institutions, unsolicited texts, and embedded links. Confirm the legitimacy of requests by directly contacting the requesting entity through official channels.
- Practice safe online behavior. Be cautious about the information you share online. Avoid oversharing personal details on social media platforms.
- Don’t be pressured to purchase an item or pay for a service quickly. Take time to think, research, and talk to someone trusted. Fraud and phishing scams often capitalize on creating a sense of scarcity or fear of missing out. Legitimate businesses will give you time to decide.
- Regularly monitor your financial and card credit statements for unauthorized or suspicious transactions. Report any discrepancies to the credit card or financial institution immediately.
- If an online deal looks too good to be true, it likely is. Be suspicious. Scammers often offer products at significantly reduced prices. If a luxury item or an electronic device is offered at an extreme discount, it’s likely counterfeit or will never be delivered.
- Don’t give out personal or account information to anyone who calls.
- Don’t rely on caller ID. Criminals can fake their identities and locations on phone calls.
- Never pay someone who insists you pay via a gift card or using a money transfer service. Also, never deposit a check and then send money back to someone.
- Use a credit card to pay for online purchases. As required by law, credit card companies provide a fraud liability guarantee which limits liability for unauthorized charges to $50 ($0 if the card was stolen and the card company is notified prior to purchases being made).
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). Strengthen the security of your accounts with 2FA, making it harder for attackers to gain access.
- Never allow permissions to an unknown app and use different passwords for each downloaded app.
- When using money transfer services, be certain to validate who you’re sending money to and their contact details.