Criminals want to steal your money and information as you online shop for holiday gifts

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
online shopping
Credit: WINK News

Shopping for your holiday gift from the comfort of your own home seems quick and easy. You don’t have to get dressed, and you can finish your shopping in just minutes.

However, thieves are counting on you to shop online. When you do, they can steal your personal information and money.

Adobe Analytics predicts that Americans will spend close to $210 million shopping online this season. But many people trade their security for convenience.

Melanie Oliverus shops online. “Use a safe browser. That’s really important,” said Oliverus.

WINK News Safety and Security Specialist Rich Kolko says crooks are aware that those who aren’t seasoned online shoppers do it during the holiday season. And, veteran online shoppers may let their guard down.

Kolko’s advice is to look for HTTPS or the lock at the beginning of any web address, especially those you may use for shopping. If the lock isn’t there, beware.

“A lot of these scammers will set up sites that look like other sites. So you’re now sending your information, including your credit card information, to a scammer that can get you in trouble,” Kolko said.

Another tip from WINK News Safety and Security Specialist is to use a credit card instead of a debit card. “You have additional protections. Once you do a debit card, they take that money out of your account right away,” said Kolko.

Shopper Natalie Silguero went one step further. “If I do shop online, I Usually shop through like VISA cards, so they don’t steal my information,” Silguero said.

When it’s possible, try to “shop as a guest.” That way, you won’t have to provide as much information as you might if you register with a retail website. The less information these sites have, the better.

“The problem is, these companies aren’t necessarily doing everything they can to protect that data. So they become vulnerable to hackers,” Kolko said.

Something else to look out for is searching far and wide for a customer service number. That is a red flag.

Also, check out a store’s return and shipping policies so that if anything goes wrong regarding your order, you’ll know what to do.

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