Black people shopping online this holiday season should be aware that fraud is rampant. Hackers are extremely savvy and know where and how to steal credit card data. So you need to be just as savvy. African-Americans should understand where and how they are vulnerable when shopping, in stores or online. Don’t let a techno-Scrooge ruin your holiday.
According to NASDAQ, nearly 32 million Americans had their credit cards breached in 2014. Forty-five percent of those breaches happened online. Now is the time to learn online safety to protect your credit, your cash, your identity and your holiday season.
First and foremost, by now you should have the new Chip & PIN or EMV cards. If not then you need to get a hold of your bank or credit card company and demand it. This new card is not perfect but it is far more secure than the regular magnetic strip cards. Of course it takes longer to process a transaction but isn’t it worth it to keep you money safe?
Here are a few tips to help you stay safe while shopping online.
- Shop only at trusted websites and stores. Stick with the familiar retailers and more common internet sites. Keep some cash on hand when you shop at unique stores or gift shops to avoid exposing yourself to fraud. Beware of misspellings or domain names using “.net” instead of “.com”. This a common trick used by cyber criminals to fool unsuspecting consumers. Check out “Is ThatWebsite Trustworthy?”
- Make sure you see “https” in the URL. Also look for the little green lock. You should be well aware of these things if you shop online anytime not just the holidays. And even if you are not shopping whenever you perform sensitive business online know what a secure website looks like.
- Do your homework! Research the company or website before making a purchase in person or online. Check websites like Yelp.com or Scamadviser.com to see what other consumers are saying. Look for a website’s customer rating. Check posts previous customers have written on the company’s website, blog, or customer feedback page.
- Protect your privacy. Be suspicious of any store or website that asks for too much information. Information such as your PIN, birthday or Social Security number are strictly off limits. Only give up the minimum amount of personal information possible. Don’t store information on the website server. Some websites will ask you to register and keep your credit card number on file in a cookie. Decline this option of you can and purchase as a guest to the website. You may have to enter your information each time you buy but you are safer. If you do create an account on a shopping website, or any website for that matter, make sure you have a strong and secure password. This makes it harder to be hacked or high-jacked by cyber crooks. Learn how to create a secure password.
- Use filters that warn you of suspicious or fraudulent websites or web pages. Google Chrome is excellent for stopping you from visiting suspicious websites. Many anit-virus programs can do the same thing. Make sure your anti-virus/anti-malware is up to date.
- Use a credit card versus a debit card when shopping online. Why? Because credit cards offer protections from identity theft that debit cards don’t offer. Also credit cards offers you the option of contesting fraudulent charges to your account where a debit card takes the money directly from you bank account. Its much harder to get back if something goes wrong.
- Keep good records. Print a copy of your order confirmation, save email receipts, and write down any pertinent information in case it’s needed to contest a charge.
- Never, ever shop using public computers! These computer are notorious for viruses and malware. They could be hiding all sorts of software to steal passwords and personal information. You have no idea who was there before you or what they were doing.
- Beware public Wi-Fi! This is a favorite hunting ground for cyber thieves. They can steal information by simply by being on the same network and watching what you do. But some cyber criminals are even providing free Wi-Fi in hotels and coffee shops as a trap for guests. Once you are on THEIR network you’re at their mercy. Be alert and know what network you are on and use a VPN to protect your Internet traffic from prying eyes.
- As always check you bank account and credit card statements daily. If you see any charges you don’t recognize, address the matter immediately. Don’t pay credit card bills until you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems. After that, you might be liable for the charges.