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Six Steps to Have a Safe Season of Spending

Fake purchase invoices

With the increased amount of purchases you’re likely to make this time of year, it can be difficult to remember which stores you genuinely purchased items from. This confusion gives scammers the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the chaos and try to trick you with fake invoices or receipts in your email inbox. Know which stores/sites you’ve made purchases from—don’t open an email from a place you didn’t shop at!

Fake shipping notifications

In line with the fake receipts or invoices, many people also shop online this time of year and that means shipping notifications. Consumers are more likely to open emails about online purchases and shipping notices due to the increased amount of cyber retail shopping. Don’t automatically trust these kinds of emails—know who you ordered from, the total of your order and what carrier is going to ship it (USPS, FedEx, UPS)! If you get an email saying that your order cannot be shipped, look to see if the email address is genuinely from that company. Don’t ever follow a link in an email and enter your payment information—it’s a scam! If you want to know the status of your order, log into the site and go to your orders.

Email deals

Not all emails you get promising deals this holiday season are going to be legitimate! Exercise caution when you get an offer in your inbox from a company you don’t recognize. Clicking on links or opening attachments in any of these first three could mean you just put malware or viruses on your computer! If you purchase (or attempt to purchase) something from a fraudulent company, they’ve now got your debit or credit card information and may drain your account!

Fake websites

Fake or phishing sites are always around, but given the generous spirit of the season, more consumers are likely to let their guard down. Hover over links on webpages and in emails in order to see the actual address of the site it will take you to. If the address doesn’t look like a legitimate address that the business would use, don’t click the link! If you’re on a site, take a quick second to look at the address bar and make sure you are one, on the correct/legitimate site and two, on a secure site (https) if you plan on entering payment information.

Keep an eye on your accounts

Review your accounts on a frequent basis. Be sure that the only money coming out of your accounts is money that you’ve spent—look out for fraudulent charges! If fraudulent charges are found, call your branch immediately to get your debit card shut down.

Fake surveys

Emails or pop-ups promising money or prizes from completing a survey can be a scam. They may seem harmless, but if a survey asks for personal information—STOP and CLOSE! You never need to divulge your personal identifying information in order to be entered into a drawing or win a prize from a reputable site. (Name and email are pretty standard, but DOB, address, SSN, account information, etc. should never be given out online.)