SAN ANTONIO — Online shopping is also sharing. You share your identity and financial information every time you make a purchase. The search for that perfect present can lead you to some dodgy cyber places.
“Con artists know this,” said Jason Meza of the Better Business Bureau. “They know the in-demand toys, technology gifts, they know what you want and they’re going to toss up some kind of website to get you there and then they’re going to take your money and/or your ID.”
“I think when people are looking to find something that is hard to find and that they want, they stop paying attention to it,” said Brian Hamilton of One financial services.
You might get emails or text with links to popular and hard to find holiday items. Here is what you should do:
“Don’t trust those,” said Kathy Stokes, director of AAPR’s fraud prevention department. “Don’t follow links, period. Go the retailer’s website yourself.”
Stick to reputable online stores.
“If you don’t know the store, don’t go there even if there’s a deal that’s presented,” said Diane Maben with Amegy Bank.
Pay attention to price.
“If the price of something is ridiculously cheap, right?” said Hamilton. “Like you find a deal that’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
Scheme sites can look just like the legitimate online stores.
“All of a sudden you’re in that other site, and it looks just like the one you thought you engaged in but it’s really a scammer site, you know, and then you start putting in your personal information, your financial information and it’s going directly to scammers,” said Michael Skiba, known as Dr. Fraud.
How to tell the difference? Look for this letter:
“Make sure you’re on the authorized secure website with an ‘s.’” Meza said. “HTTPS will indicate a secure website and you’re going to an actual retailer.”
Used a credit card for online shopping because it better protects your money.
“If you use a debit card and somebody steals your card and they wipe out your account, you may get that money back if it’s determined to be fraudulent,” said Stokes. “But it’s going to be maybe even weeks before the investigation happens with the bank, and while you don’t have that money, you’re not paying your rent or mortgage from that account.”
Review your bank statement weekly to catch fraudulent charges.
“Sometimes things sneak through the radar and the sooner you catch it, the better we are as a bank, Amegy, or any other bank, is able to work with you to get that refund to your account,” said Maben.
Do not pay using cryptocurrency, gift cards, wire transfers, or peer to peer money transfers apps like Vemno, Cash App or Zelle. There is no way to refund you money back with those payment options.
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