Online shopping has skyrocketed during the pandemic, and as the holiday season approaches and the US adjusts for the unknowns of the Omicron variant, its popularity is expected to continue this year.
Experts warn of an increase in vacation fraud.
“Fraud is really like a casual crime,” said Victoria Funes, assistant director of state for AARP Florida. â€œMore traffic creates more available victims for people who phishing for their dollars. Every time you have a vacation the tactics are adjusted to keep people enthralled. “
According to a recent survey by the AARP Fraud Watch Network, 75 percent of adults say they have been or have experienced at least one form of fraud.
But the holidays are not a time to fear, experts say – they are an opportunity to learn best practices that can help you avoid the many scammers that pop up online, appear on your text messages, or send letters to your door.
Scammers use many different tactics. But ultimately, their goal is the same – to extract personal information like a bank account, credit card number, or access to someone’s computer.
Tip 1: If you haven’t initiated the communication, be careful.
“A good state of mind is to simply decline anything suggested or asked to you if you haven’t initiated it,” said Funes.
Do not give out personal information to anyone who is looking for you, be it over the phone or online. Remember: you can always check something yourself first.
Tip 2: Go to famous and legitimate websites when shopping online.
Many fraudulent websites use web addresses that are similar to popular shopping sites like Macy’s or Home Depot – but usually there is a grammatical error or slight difference.
If you receive a pop-up or email on an online website promising a deal, don’t click the link. Find the website yourself using a search browser and make sure it is a legitimate homepage for a company you know.
Tip 3: If an unknown number calls with an “urgent matter”, hang up.
Regardless of whether you are warning of an expiring guarantee, have cracked a bank account or pretend to be a relative in a crisis: hang up the phone.
Nothing is so urgent that you cannot call back from a phone number that is listed on a legitimate website or that you have on file for that relative.
“It has been proven that the longer you stay on the phone, the more vulnerable you become when they get something out of you that they can use,” said Funes.
If a caller claims they are “just doing their job” and preventing you from picking up the call, it is a warning sign.
Tip 4: don’t click links in text messages.
Scammers often send text messages claiming that the security of an Amazon or bank account has been compromised and ask recipients to â€œClick here to verify your informationâ€. Don’t click the link.
“Sometimes even clicking them increases your security risk because it gives you access to information on your mobile device,” said Funes. â€œThey bait you. They send them out to a whole bunch of people and they know someone is going to bite. “
Tip 5: Use credit cards for online payments whenever possible.
Credit cards and digital wallets are safer than debit cards online because they prevent anyone from having direct access to the cash in your account.
Tribune news service