The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) encourages consumers to keep a particularly watchful eye on their personal credit information during the upcoming holiday season. Unrecognizable charges on a credit card statement are often the first indication that personal information has been stolen.
Bank accounts can often serve as a target for criminals. Consumers should never click on a link embedded in an email from their bank, but rather open a new webpage and manually enter the URL. Phishing scams, in which criminals attempt to acquire information such as usernames or passwords by masquerading as a trusted entity, often start with phony emails that feature a bank name and logo.
When shopping online, make sure to use reputable sites. Often consumers are shown specials that look too good to be true. These sites are used to capture personal information, including credit card numbers, addresses and phone numbers, to make fraudulent transactions.
If you look for an item or company name through a search engine site, do not automatically click on the first result. Fraudsters go to extreme lengths to have their website appear ahead of a legitimate company on popular search engines. Their website may be a mirrored version of a popular website, but with a slightly different URL.
Purchases made on these sites could result in one or more of the following consequences: never receiving the item, having your credit card details stolen or downloading a computer virus to your computer.
Before clicking on a result in a search engine, look for any misspellings or extra characters in the URL of the destination website. When taken to the payment page of a website, again verify the URL and ensure it is secure by starting with “HTTPS,” not just “HTTP.”
For more online shopping safety tips, visit the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team website.