Shopping Online? Best Practices to Keep Your Identity Safe

Shopping online is easy and convenient. But don’t forget the possibility of fraud often lurks in Internet nooks and crannies. However, here are a few safety precautions you can implement to be as safe as possible and protect your identity and financial information while shopping online.

Only shop on trustworthy websites.

Shopping online can be addictive.  Who wouldn’t want to shop from home cozy in their pajamas while also saving money?  There are many trustworthy retailer websites out there that are safe to shop on.  However, be weary of clicking on email links or website sidebar ads.  Before checking out your online shopping cart and entering your card information, be sure you are visiting the actual website of the business to ensure it is safe.  If something seems too good to be true, it is probably not a legitimate website.

Don’t shop on public WiFi networks.

Hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops often offer free WiFi.  Trouble can arise though, when sensitive personal or financial information is shared over these public networks.  The open nature of public networks can compromise your financial security.  Public WiFi should always be used with caution – never access your bank accounts, personal data, or shop through a public network.

Protect your computer with anti-virus software and secure your internet access with a password.

Often we assume our home WiFi network is safe.  However, vulnerabilities within our home network can also do a lot of damage.  Safe home networks have a personalized SSID, strong passwords, encryption enabled, and updated anti-virus software.  Computers should also be protected with spyware software.

Shop online only with a credit card or use digital wallet.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends that consumers shop online using a credit card over a debit card, to be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act.  This law allows consumers to dispute charges and withhold payment while under investigation. To read more about which card is safer to use, click here to access our educational guidebook.

For added security, take these preventative measures:

  • Monitor all your accounts through online banking, mobile apps, or monthly statements.
  • Make sure your address, email, and cell phone numbers are updated with your financial institution.
  • Enroll in your smartphone’s digital wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay, which can be used to pay online. Merchants store a token number and not the actual card to authenticate transactions using you fingerprint, phone’s passcode, or face recognition during checkout.
  • If PayPal is a payment option when checking out online, this is another protective solution that doesn’t have your card entered into a retailer’s website. Plus you also have protective disputing power here too.

Ensure the card entry webpage is secure. 

Entering card information online is definitely something you want to be cautious about.  If the retailer’s website is compromised and you paid with a debit card, you may eventually find $0 in your checking account.  When paying online, try to check to make sure you are on a secure website that will protect your personal information.  There are two ways to check to enure you are on a secure site. First, verify the site’s URL begins with https:// and that there is a small lock in the URL bar.  The “s” in the URL indicates you are on a secure website.  You can also hover over the small lock to the right of the web address to read further details about the site’s security.  An unsecured website will often display a small letter “i” that will also offer information about the site’s security when you hover over it.  Never enter card information on an unsecured site.

Print or save receipts as PDFs. 

As an added security measure, it’s good practice to print or save any online purchase receipts as PDF documents.  Compare the saved receipt with your credit card billing statement to confirm accuracy.

Always be careful when shopping online.  If you follow the above security measures, you’ll have a great chance at keeping your sensitive financial information safe.

Article Source: MaryAnne Colucci for LSC.net

Important Alert: Card Cracking Scam Targets Students

scamCash-strapped college students have been recruited to participate in a scam
referred to as “card cracking.” Using ATM/debit cards and PINs willingly provided by the students, fraudsters deposit fraudulent checks to the students’ accounts. The funds are subsequently withdrawn by the fraudsters with the students receiving a portion of the funds for their participation.

Details
The “card cracking” scam was reported to originate in Chicago and generally targeted college students who were recruited through social media sites including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Participants were even recruited in person at college campuses. The sales pitch is to allow the fraudster to deposit a check to a student’s account and withdraw the funds for which the student receives half of the proceeds for agreeing to participate. This scam was since reported nationwide.

Willing participants provide the fraudsters with their ATM/debit cards and PINs. The fraudsters deposit fraudulent checks (stolen or counterfeit checks) to the student accounts via ATMs and subsequently withdraw the funds. Their proposition is simple: If you provide me with access to your account so I can deposit a check and withdraw the money, I will provide you with half of the proceeds.

After initial contact is made, the scammer arranges to meet up with the student to retrieve the debit card and corresponding PIN. The deposit is made, the money is withdrawn and then the fraudulent checks were subsequently returned unpaid and charged back to the students’ accounts. Following the fraudsters’ instructions, the participants report their ATM/debit card as lost or stolen and that the transactions were fraudulent.

The participants may not be entitled to protection under Regulation E (Reg E) for
unauthorized use of their ATM/debit card since they willingly provided their card to the
fraudsters, which contains an exclusion to the definition of unauthorized
electronic fund transfer:

Unauthorized electronic fund transfer means an electronic fund transfer from a consumer’s account initiated by a person other than the consumer without actual authority to initiate the transfer, and from which the consumer receives no benefit. The term does not include an electronic fund transfer initiated by a person who was furnished access to the consumer’s account by the consumer, unless the consumer has notified their financial institution that transfers by that person are no longer authorized.

This is a huge risk – especially for students who may have large amounts going through their accounts from loans, scholarships and tuition reimbursements.

“Even though the students might be considered victims, authorities point out that providing their debit cards to someone else is a crime,” the Sun-Times of Chicago stated.

There’s an easy solution: Never share your account information, debit card or PIN with anyone! 

Here are some other safety tips you should keep in mind:

  • Always verify the identity of the person trying to obtain personal information.
  • Never give personal information to someone over the phone or via email. Personal information includes: Birth date, Social Security Number, maiden name, address, bank account number, debit/credit card number, PIN number, etc.
  • Maintain a record of the phone call or solicitation. Write down the phone number that the person is calling from, the time and date they called, the caller’s name, and reported affiliation. If it was online, save a copy of the email conversation or advertisement.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If you believe you may be a victim of fraud, call your local police department so authorities can be alerted to the activity. You can also report email or internet scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by going online to http://www.ic3.gov.

To learn more about First Financial’s ID Theft Protection products, click here and enroll today!

Click the links to view more information from the original article sources: Yahoo Finance, Explorer News and CUNA Mutual Group.