More online holiday shoppers facing fraud, Savannah Police offer advice

Consumer Report

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – More people will be shopping online this holiday season because of the pandemic but Savannah police say the season for giving is also the season for fraud.

Detective Perneacia Banks who works in the Financial Crimes Division says guard your credit card and bank account numbers and while you may enjoy the convenience of online shopping, always start with the basics.

“The first thing you want to do is make sure you’re operating on a secure website,” says Detective Banks.

She says always plug in a shopping website yourself instead of following links in ads. “Right now there are a lot of bogus sites on social media,” she said.

Banks says in terms of security, look for the little padlock in the address bar of the web site. She says that padlock is assurance it is a real site and secure for you to shop.

“Knowing that it’s a secure site that you’re providing your information to is importnant,” she said.

Banks says if you shop online frequently, sign up for automatic alerts from your banking and credit card institutions to make sure you are informed quickly of any suspcious charges that may show up.

“And change your information frequently like your passwords and PIN numbers so there are no red flags that stick out, no transactions that you haven’t made,” said Banks. “If you’re a big shopper, maybe you should to it daily.”

Banks also cautions about setting up accounts on shopping sites that have your credit card number stored permanently. She says your information can be at risk if that site is hacked.

“It might be more convenient and faster when you shop if the credit card is stored but it could turn into a big problem later if something happens on that site,” said Banks. “For myself, I don’t save my information to websites and I definitley don’t save my financial information to websites. I take that exra time when I’m shopping to go ahead and put it in at that time and so they can only utilize it then.”

More advice:

1) Use strong passwords and do NOT use the same password for multiple accounts
2) Never click on an ad if you are not sure the ad is legitimate
3) Be suspicious if you see ads that offer large discounts. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
4) Sign up for automatic text alerts from your banking institution regarding your accounts
5) Use multi-factor authentication when possible. (Requires a second step to make a purchase. Usually, a number or password is provided to you by the merchant via text or email.
6) The Better Business Bureau advises that you make certain you are using a secure website such as your home. Be careful about using public sites such as at a restaurant.

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