Many people are hesitant to do their shopping online because of identity theft and credit card fraud. Indeed, the risk is great and experiences prove that there is a reason to be concerned.
Since the introduction of internet shopping, scammers and thieves have alsofound new ways to steal people’s identity and commit crimes. This article presents valuable tips on how you can protect your credit against fraud and id theft.
Beware of Phishing Scams!
Scammers use e-mails to disguise themselves and trick people. You may unexpectedly receive an e-mail that is supposed to have been sent by a government agency or a reputable online merchant. Does the email contain links or URLs? Do these links lead you to a website that looks familiar? Are you requested to fill out an online application form?
You may be requested to provide your personal information to “confirm” or “validate” your account. Unsuspecting recipients may carelessly do so and reply to the sender. But if the sender is a fake, you have handed out important personal information that can be used against you.
This popular strategy is called “phishing”. At first glance, the e-mail may look authentic. It may look like an e-mail from the IRS, PayPal, Amazon and other trusted websites. If you don’t look closely, it would be very hard to distinguish the difference between fake and genuine websites. For this reason, consumers must always be cautious about responding or even opening such emails. If you’re in doubt, call up the company and confirm if they really sent such an email.
Fight ID Theft and Fraud
Always remember that legitimate companies do not use e-mails for acquiring confidential information from their clients. These companies know the danger that is involved in sending electronic messages. Therefore, if you have received a suspicious email from a well-known company, don’t reply. Never give out your personal information.
The Federal Trade Commission warns all consumers against the different strategies used to steal identity and commit fraud. If you receive an unexpected from a government agency, an online merchant or a financial institution, call the company first for verification. Delete unsolicited emails from your inbox immediately as these messages may also contain malicious programs that can invade your computer system.
When shopping online, take the time to examine the reputation and track record of the online merchant. Some merchants may offer lower prices but if you can’t be sure about your security, why take the risk? If you want to use your credit card online, ask your bank for an online account number that is different from the numbers on your card.
Be aware of the differences between a secured and an unsecured website. A valid and secured site should always begin with https:// with a pad locked icon at the bottom right corner of your browser. If you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud, contact the Federal Trade Commission right away.