Happy December! Friday has come once again so it is time for our favorites of the week.
- Get a job-The secret to finding hidden jobs via Daily Finance.
- Holiday Savings-Real Simple's 4 week plan for saving during the holidays.
- To-do Lists-Savvy Sugar's list of December must do's for your finances.
- Keep Safe-How to avoid cyber theft during the holiday shopping season.
- Jobs Report-CNNMoney says unemployment is down, new jobs are up!
The holidays are here and so are the criminals looking to rip you off. While many of us are aware of the tactics criminals pose in the physical space, many times we don't take the necessary precautions online. Recently, the FBI put out a holiday bulletin to remind shoppers to beware of cyber criminals and the creative ways they steal personal information as well as your money. These scammers use a variety of tactics including fraudulent auctions, shipping goods purchased with stolen credit cards and selling stolen gifts cards at discounts. Many times they use phishing emails advertising bargain basement prices for goods or they use emails to advertise products that are counterfeit.
As a general rule you should avoid using unfamiliar merchants. Stay with mainstream websites like Amazon, Target and the alike to avoid being taken for a ride. In addition, if you do use websites like eBay make sure you look at the seller ratings before you purchase items and stay away from new sellers or sellers with 100% ratings with very few actual sales. Many times criminals post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have. Always use a legitimate payment service like PayPal to protect your credit card and bank account information.
Many times emails will contain links to a spoofed Website, a fake site or copy of a real Website, designed to mislead the recipient into providing personal information. The website may also have a similar web address as the real site to fool visitors.
Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:
- Always buy gift cards directly from the merchant or authorized reseller, not online.
- Financial institutions and merchants do not ask for PINs, passwords, social security numbers or account numbers by email so do not respond.
- Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) email or click on the links.
- Be cautious of email with attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
- Do not fill out forms contained in email messages that ask for personal information.
- Always compare the link in the email to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
- Log on directly to the official Website for the business identified in the email, instead of "linking" to it from an unsolicited email. If the email appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
- Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the email to verify that the email is genuine.
- Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Visit the FBI website for information about scams. You can also sign up for email alerts. http://www.fbi.gov/cyberinvest/escams.htm.