Tag Archives: email coupons

Online Holiday Shopping 2016 – Security Basics

canstockphoto31830688Twice a year scammers crawl from underneath rocks and other nasty places to celebrate special holidays. First, tax season, then the holiday season. African-Americans using the Internet for holiday shopping need to be on guard against cyber crime.  Being aware of the scams and hazards can make a big difference in your holiday celebrations. 

The African-American Cyber Report is offering black people another season of valuable safety information to protect your holiday season so lets get started.

 

Card Skimming

Card skimmer courtesy of BBB.org

Card skimmer courtesy of BBB.org

Card skimming is actually pretty simple. Your credit or debit card information is copied when you swipe your card at a retailer or ATM. Cyber thieves install almost invisible devices or special software on retail card readers. This allows them to duplicate your card and steal your PIN. Its as simple as that. So how do you protect yourself?

First of all if something does not look or feel right stay way. For example is the face of the card reader loose or does it look kind of sloppy? Exposed glue or loose fitting parts? Do the buttons require more effort than normal to press? Does your card have to be swiped several times to work properly. Here’s a trick; pull or tug at the face of the reader. It may come off in your hand. Do the same at ATM’s. Check those buttons. Try to move them or lift the key pad. Check the card insert. Pull on that. Check to see if there is something in the slot or protruding from it. You have got to be alert! If you find any of these things notify the retailer and your bank if you have used it.

If possible use your credit card and not your debit card. It is extremely hard to get your money back from a bank debit card. But a credit card transaction can be cancelled and you will normally not be charged. Skimmers can be found anywhere even at Walmart.

RFID Card Protection

paypassThis is less likely but does happen. Your credit and debit card are sometimes equipped with a feature allowing you to charge things with a quick tap of the card on the pay terminal. You may have one of the cards with brands like PayPassExpressPay, or PayWave.

These cards have RFID (radio frequency identification) chips. With the right equipment criminals can scan your card and steal your card’s data. Protect your card by using a RFID blocking sleeve, or an RFID wallet available online at retailers like Amazon.

But as we said before this is not likely. An RFID reader has poor range so the scammer would have to be standing awfully close to read your card. Keep that in mind when you are fighting that crowd on Black Friday. 

 

EMV or Chip Cards Safety

chipcardYou should by now have the credit card with the EMV chip embedded in it. If not contact your bank or card provider and ask for it. That chip is used to encrypt the transaction data when you charge something. 

The objective of card chip was to reduce card fraud. This technology is not perfect. Some retailers have failed to switch to EMV even though the deadline passed in 2015.  Why? Retailers and customers complain that the process is too slow. Chip cards have reduced point-of-sale fraud. But the crooks have worked around it. The latest hazard is fraudulent “card-not-present” transactions online. Criminals can obtain the credit card number, security code, expiration date from criminal websites that sell this information. Personal information like your dog’s name or your mother’s birthday can be found on Facebook. They use this information to hijack your online accounts. That’s what happens when you put too much of your business online.

 

Tech Support Scams


tech-support-scam-popupNew tablets, laptops, smartphones and big screen televisions are big sellers on Black Friday. Tech support scams are common all year round but the efforts by scammers increases during the holidays. 

These scammers are intent on getting you to pay for support or software you don’t need or simply doesn’t exist. This includes extended warranties. They email you with a sales pitch or issue warnings from what appears to be a Microsoft representative. Be aware! Anti-virus companies do not call you to let you know you have a computer virus. Don’t ever agree to let anyone access your computer from a remote location. Don’t download any software online that you are not sure of. If you don’t have the expertise to know then consult a professional.

Computers often come with a ton of useless software or games. This is known as bloatware or crapware. Be careful! These programs can cost you money. They often entice children and adults to buy things without them even realizing it.

 

Phony Bank Calls

During the holiday season you are using your bank and debit cards more often. Beware if someone claiming to be your bank or credit card company calls you. Remember when it comes to your money you should be asking the questions.

Scammers will call victims claiming to be investigating card fraud or suspicious activity. They will ask questions that reveal your personal information like your credit card number or PIN. Don’t answer these questions. Hang up and call your bank from a number you know. Or stop by in person. These scammers are professionals at alarming you and getting you to reveal information used to rip you off.  When it comes to your money only deal with people you know and trust. Never, ever reveal any personal information to a voice over the phone.

 

Email and Phishing Scams

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net

Be careful where you click! Be extremely cautious about clicking on or downloading coupons in your email. It may be ransomware. This is a malicious software program that locks up your computer until you pay to get it released. It happens a lot and is one of the hottest computer scams going on right now.

Clicking on the wrong email may release malware on to your computer that steals information, monitors your activity and changes your settings. It may even secretly take control of your computer and email itself to all your contacts. Understand that scammers can duplicate an email from Macy’s, Walmart and any other major retailer. Check the return email address to make sure you know who its from. Check the retailers website for information regarding sales, coupons and possible scams. 

Be careful about holiday contests. When you fill out a contest form you maybe giving out personal information. Same for holiday coupons that ask for your name, email address and other personal information.

This holiday season; Be Alert! Be Aware!

 

 

 

Online Holiday Shopping Series #2

canstockphoto15907634If you plan to shop online this holiday season you need to get a battle plan together. Saving money is not always made easy for you but if you develop a strategy and method to stay up on the latest sales it could pay off big…really big.

Step 1) Set up an email box strictly for your shopping information. Don’t use your own personal email unless you love getting a lot of spam. Stores love to get email addresses and they also love to email coupons. Also make an effort to follow your favorite stores on their Facebook or other social media site. Another really cool thing stores will do is announce sales and discounts only through email and text messages. If your name is on the list you can can get some nice additional discounts on sale items. This is a favorite tactic of Stein Mart stores who regularly issue incredible savings coupons on the Internet. You have to know where to look for them so click on the link to see what I’m talking about. You can sign up for coupons at stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, JCPenny and many more. 

Coupons are just the beginning of the benefits of signing up for email alerts and coupons. Last year a major electronics retailer offered flat screen televisions, any size, for half price on a certain day of the week. If you were not on their email list you never knew about it. This beats the hell out of waiting in line at 5:00AM on Black Friday. Of course the number of sets were limited in each store but the deal was a great one if you knew about it.

How about being invited to an exclusive sale?  Last holiday season a popular retailer of women’s’ plus size clothing held an after hours sale exclusively for people who responded to an email. The sale offered items for as much as 70% off. You missed it didn’t you?

You don’t have to do this alone. Ask a friend or two to join you using that special email box. Each of you should sign up for stores you all enjoying shopping at. Keep each other informed about sales and monitor social media for sales as well. You never know when Macy’s may Tweet a sale.  Work as team and you could end with a pretty good repository of sales and coupons. And its good all year long since stores hold sales all year round.

Step 2) Focus on price matching. If you find an item at one store for less than another then you can ask the store to sell it to you for that price. Even if they don’t do price matching they very often say yes. Here is a list of stores that have excellent price matching policies. What is great about this is that some store will even match the online price. Check out this list of stores that match online prices.

Step 3) Learn the best shopping apps and load them on your smartphone or tablet. VentureBeats.com offers this list of the 8 best shopping apps. One of the great things about some shopping apps is they they can do a lot of the work for you. Although we will focus on shopping apps later in this series you need to read up on them now before the shopping season gets intense. A good shopping app can do things like watch the price of a item for you and alert you when it drops to a certain level. Some apps go out on the  Internet and find the item at a cheaper price. Other apps will monitor sales at certain stores for you. Apps are amazing and can help keep a few extra dollars where they belong and thats in your pocket.

Step 4) Pick your days carefully. Believe it or not the best day to shop is not black Friday or Cyber Monday. How about Thanksgiving evening? Research indicates that instead of watching football you may want to get online to shop for those Christmas gifts.

As long as we are on the subject of Black Friday sales I’ll let you in on a little secret. First of all the best sales are not on Black Friday. As matter of fact if you wait those same prices will re-appear either online or at the store. Second, there is an extremely limited quantity of those incredible sale items. For example if you see a 50 inch flat screen television advertised for dirt cheap you can bet there are a very few in the store. Check the ad and you will see the word “Limited Quantities.” So get some sleep and preserve your dignity. Black Friday sales are not all that great. You can see a list of 16 Black Friday myths right here.  

Finally, there is a rule of thumb that I would like black people to keep in mind this Christmas shopping season; Its not what you make but what you keep. These tips are intended to help you keep your money. Regardless of what or who you are shopping for there is no reason to pay too much. I have the privilege of knowing a woman who I call the Discount Diva. You could say she is a professional at finding the sale for exactly what she wants even after she has already purchased it. Its amazing but I have seen her go into a store and come out with money. How? She is a practitioner of finding the item she has already purchased on sale for less than what she paid for it. She then goes back to the store with her receipt and asks for the difference. And most times the store will refund the difference. Its amazing but it is an excellent example of how a good shopper works. I urge you, this season, be that shopper.

Now you know