Midwest Heritage Warns Consumers to Watch Out for Online Shopping Scams

posted on Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Online shopping has become even more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic as people try to protect themselves through social distancing. With all the fantastic online shopping deals coming this month, Midwest Heritage wants to remind consumers to watch out for phishing and other identity theft scams this holiday shopping season.

Scammers and cybercriminals always step up their efforts during the holidays. With the pandemic being a major concern for many people right now, it’s easy to forget that cybercrime and identity theft are still real threats. That’s why it’s important to stay alert, especially right now. Being alert to the social engineering tricks commonly used by cybercriminals is the most effective way to protect yourself from becoming a victim of cybercrime.

Following is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you spot email phishing scams and avoid becoming victimized:

  • DO use a credit card — To keep your checking and savings accounts secure, use a credit card when shopping online. Many major credit cards offer zero liability for fraud and will alert you to suspicious charges. If you use a debit card, you could give a cybercriminal access to your bank accounts.
  • DON’T click on suspicious links — If you receive an email that, at a glance, appears to be from a legitimate company, hover your mouse over the hyperlinks to see if it includes a valid URL for that company. Next, scan the email for spelling and grammar mistakes. Then look at the sender’s email address to see if it matches the company’s website domain. If you see any reason to suspect it might be a phishing scam, delete it immediately.
  • DO make sure the site you’re using is secure — Submitting information like credit card info on a site that is not secure increases the likelihood that a cybercriminal will gain access to it. When shopping online, check the URL in your browser to make sure the site you’re using is secure. Google Chrome and Firefox will show a locked padlock on secure sites. If you’re using Internet Explorer, check that the URL starts with https rather than http.
  • DON’T open attachments — Cybercriminals will often include attachments in phishing emails. Opening these attachments could result in downloading malware on your computer. Legitimate retailers also don’t force you to open attachments to see a deal, so if an email directs you to open an attachment, it’s best to assume it’s a scam.
  • DO change up your passwords — If you do a lot of online shopping with multiple retailers, you need to have a different password for every site. If you don’t, and a cybercriminal obtains your password on one site, they will gain access to all of your accounts.
  • DON’T use public Wi-Fi — The more people who have access to the network you’re using, the greater possibility that someone else could access your accounts. When making purchases online, it’s best to use a private Wi-Fi network rather than a public one.
  • DO monitor your bank and credit card accounts — Even if you are careful and take every precaution, a cybercriminal could still access your account. That’s why it’s important to check your bank and credit card accounts regularly for any suspicious charges. If you notice one, contact your bank or credit card issuer immediately.