Most cyber scammers are wily and persistent. Some days, we find ourselves bombarded with so many questionable emails and phone calls, that it’s hard to know what to answer.
Studies by the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau estimate that 229 million American adults—about nine out of every 10—experienced at least one attempted fraud in 2020. Of those, some 33 million lost their hard-earned money.
Now, as we approach what’s predicted to be the biggest online shopping season in history, we need to be smart about spotting scams. Veteran scam-busters suggest these tips for recognizing ‘phishing’ emails and staying out of the scammers’ crosshairs.
- Urgent Messages Demanding Action Now – Reputable companies do not send blaring email alarms stating your account has been suspended or hacked or is over the purchase limit. If you see such a message, do not click on the provided link. If you have any doubt, call your provider to verify.
- Generic Greetings – Hit the delete button when an email begins with ‘Dear User’ or ‘Hello XYZ member.’ Reputable companies with whom you do business will always address you by name.
- Giveaways, Sweepstakes and Prizes – If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is, so be wary. Some giveaways may be legitimate, but many are not. Contact the company offering the prize to verify before ‘entering’ a contest by providing your personal information.
- Requests for Account Details or Financial Verification – No reputable company sends out emails asking for your full name, account password or answer to security questions. Ignore it and never share your bank account number, debit or credit card number via email.
Additionally, consumer advocates suggest that when shopping online:
- Go directly to a retailers address to order versus clicking on an ad in a search engine
- Use a credit card that protects you against fraudulent charges.