Protect Your Money From Scams
During the holiday season, we tend to make a lot more purchases online for
travel and gifts, so it’s especially important to be vigilant about protecting your
money. Here are some of the most common scams to watch for:
Fake Websites and Apps. Scammers often create fake websites that are so
similar to the sites of popular retailers, it easily tricks consumers into providing
payment information. The scammers take your information and your money, but
you never receive the products. Scammers have also developed fake apps that
contain malware. When you download the app, the malware steals personal
information from your device or locks it, holding it for ransom until you pay the
scammers. Other types of fraudulent apps ask you to login using your social
media or email accounts that could expose your personal information for the
scammers to steal.
Be careful of apps or websites that ask for suspicious permissions, such as
granting access to your contacts, text messages, stored passwords, or credit
card information. Also, poor grammar or misspelled words in an apps’ description
or on a website is a red flag that it is not legitimate.
Email Links. Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails or emails from unfamiliar
sources. The links may lead to an illegitimate website attempting to get you to
enter your credit card or other personal information. Some links may download
malware (malicious software, such as computer viruses) to your computer when
you click on them that can steal your banking information, including login
identification, passwords, and credit or debit card numbers. These emails
typically look very similar to ones sent by well-known retailers, banks, and other
Be on the lookout for emails that have typos or other obvious mistakes. In
addition, be skeptical of email attachments described as coupons, rebates, or
payment forms – they could include malware. And avoid email offers that seem
“too good to be true.” If an email promises popular items for free or a surprisingly
low price, it is probably a scam.
Making Payments on Unsecure Sites. Before paying for a purchase online, make
sure the website you’re on has “https” at the beginning of its URL with a lock
This means the site has a protected network
connection. Websites with “http” at the beginning of the URL with no “s” are more
vulnerable to attacks by scammers who steal credit card information by
monitoring network traffic. Also be aware of pop-up windows that appear while
you are on a website asking for your credit card information to receive coupons
or to win free items. Legitimate companies do not ask for your personal
information for those purposes.
Using Public Wi-Fi to Shop or Access Sensitive Information. Wireless
connectivity, also known as Wi-Fi, allows your laptop, PC, or mobile device to
connect to the internet without a physical wire connection. Many restaurants,
hotels, libraries, and other places offer free public Wi-Fi, which is convenient
when you’re on the go. However, these networks may not be secure (since they
either do not require a password or provide the same generic password to all
customers for access) and may expose your personal and banking information to
scammers looking to steal names, social security numbers, and bank account
Avoid using public Wi-Fi to make purchases online, login to your financial
accounts, or access other sites that have sensitive information about you. It’s
also a good idea to stick with websites that have “https” encryption (discussed
above) when in public places.
Package Delivery Confirmation Scams. This scam is especially popular during
the holidays when people receive gifts through the mail that they may not be
The scammers call or email claiming to be from the U.S. Postal Service or a
major shipping company and state that you have a package waiting for delivery.
To ensure the package is meant for you, you are asked to provide personal
information, which the scammers steal to use to open credit accounts in your
name. In response to this scam, the U.S. Postal Service explained it does not call
or email people and ask for personal information if there is a problem with a
delivery. Visit U.S. Postal Service Inspection Crime Alert for more information.
Don’t let these scams dampen your holiday spirits. Instead, here are precautions
you can take to protect your money while shopping online:
- In general, always use difficult-to-guess, unique passwords on every
- If you’re using shopping apps, focus only on official retailer apps found on
the retailer’s website or a reputable app marketplace, which offer stronger
- Never provide your credit card information unless you are on a secure site,
showing “https” at the beginning of the URL and the lock symbol.
- Think about implementing two factor authentication on your accounts. Two
factor authentication requires you to provide two pieces of evidence when
logging into an account. It presents an extra layer of security to make it
more difficult for someone who isn’t you to log into your account. For more
information, visit National Institute of Standards and Technology Multi
- Monitor credit card bills and bank statements as well as app and other
online transactions for unauthorized purchases or withdrawals.
Immediately contact your bank if you see anything suspicious. In addition,
you may want to consider signing up for alert services. Many credit card
issuers, banks, and mobile app providers offer services that notify you
about certain account activities, such as recent logins from unrecognized
Information provided by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).