WAVE Country December 8 – Online Holiday Shopping Tips to Protect Yourself from Scams

A review of some tips and scams to be aware of as you do your online holiday shopping.


Dawn Gee (00:00):

‘Tis the season for folks to get scammed because it’s the holiday season and that’s just how it is. I wish it wasn’t, but in times of holidays and in times of tragedy, that is what happens. I want to welcome my guests who are here, and I thank them so much for being here. Whitney Adkins, who talks to us all the time, Director of Strategic Marketing from the Better Business Bureau, and also Jeff Chandler, who is here from Z-JAK Technologies. I guess you’re going to help us with all those technology ins… And I am a millionaire, I think, 820 times a day.

Jeff Chandler (00:43):

You wish, right?

Dawn Gee (00:44):

And they tell me to just click here in order to…

Whitney Adkins (00:48):

I know,

Dawn Gee (00:49):

…fill out the information for my millions. Or I think lately, over the last week, it’s been, thank you for buying whatever it is. Here is your receipt for the $691. To see your receipt click here. I know I’ve not purchased anything, but they want to panic me to think that I’ve purchased something, so I’ll click and look in that receipt. And Jeff, what’s the worst thing I can do?

Jeff Chandler (01:19):

Click the link.

Dawn Gee (01:20):

Click that link and-

Jeff Chandler (01:21):

Or call the number, right?

Dawn Gee (01:23):

How do they do that? When I click, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Can they take my computer over? What can happen?

Jeff Chandler (01:31):

So when you click that link, potentially they can download malware onto your computer, take it over, and then even potentially use your computer to attack other computers. So it’s just really important that you’re careful when you click those links that you know where it’s going to. If you get that notification, let’s say from Amazon, go to the Amazon site directly and check it.

Dawn Gee (01:52):

Not that link. Yeah, here at WAVE, they send around this time, don’t click. Just don’t click because it could hurt me, and then everyone else in the building. All right, Whitney, what are we seeing? What are you all seeing most of all during this time of year?

Whitney Adkins (02:09):

You kind of really nailed it, Dawn. We are seeing the fake invoices, or fake emails purporting to be from Amazon, but they really are.

Dawn Gee (02:09):

Not from Amazon.

Whitney Adkins (02:19):

Saying, “Oh, you have this large charge on your account, and if it wasn’t you, we can help you take care of it.” When really, as Jeff said, they are looking to get access to your account, possibly to install malware, possibly to steal your financial information or your personal information. So we’re seeing a lot of that. We’re seeing a lot of online shopping scams where identities can be stolen, or at least put at risk, through lookalike websites that you might access through an ad. If you see a flashy ad and you click on it, suddenly you’re on this website and it looks legitimate, or close enough, but it’s not actually the retailer you think it is.

Dawn Gee (02:57):

So let me tell you how… I feel like I’m really cynical, and I feel bad for that, but I feel safe.

Whitney Adkins (03:04):

Yes, absolutely.

Dawn Gee (03:05):

I feel bad but safe. So I saw some wonderful items that I wanted to get for my family for Christmas and I looked at the name of the item and I thought, “Okay.” So if it’s a real deal then it sells on Amazon. I went to my Amazon account, typed in the name of the item, and lo and behold, there it was. And I purchased it. I didn’t have to click that.

Whitney Adkins (03:29):

You didn’t. And it may be a bit of a nuisance to take those extra steps, but I always think, and I’m sure Jeff agrees with me, better to do those extra steps up front, to take a little bit of extra caution up front, than to put yourself at risk and have to potentially deal with being scammed later on. Which would you prefer? A little bit of caution, extra time up front, or the pain that comes with having your identity stolen, having your money stolen.

Dawn Gee (03:56):

So what’s the social media gift exchange?

Whitney Adkins (04:00):

Oh gosh, Dawn, that crops up every year. And I don’t know if you guys… I’ve seen-

Dawn Gee (04:04):

That’s the one I’ve not gotten yet.

Whitney Adkins (04:06):

Unfortunately, I’ve seen on my friends’ list, some folks fall for it. On its surface, it looks like a fun gift exchange like you would do in person with your coworkers or your family or your friends. And it’s just, “I’m just looking for five friends and we’re going to exchange bottles of wine or a book or a $20 gift.” But what it boils down to, when you’re seeing it on social media, it’s a pyramid scheme. It’s an illegal pyramid scheme.

Now you’re not going to get in trouble if you participate in it, but what happens is you’re putting your information out there for people that you don’t know. It’s kind of this massive pyramid, this trickle down, where you don’t know who your information’s going to. Or if you involve your family and friends, you’re putting their information at risk, and you almost never receive the item that you’re hoping to receive. It’s a gamble and it’s ultimately not worth it. So if you see those posts, ignore them, or if it’s someone sharing, you might reach out to them privately and say, “Hey, that’s actually a pyramid scheme.” Better to just do those type of exchanges with people you know.

Dawn Gee (05:09):

Right. Holiday apps. Now I have seen them, especially the kind that turn you into something or… What do you say about those? And I always hear about these apps where they can, I don’t know, make you look like something or you can get a free game, and then I hear China’s stealing my information. Is that true? I mean, can that happen?

Jeff Chandler (05:37):

Yeah, absolutely. So you just need to be careful of what apps you’re downloading. Make sure it’s a reputable app, a reputable company.

Dawn Gee (05:43):

I’m so fearful I don’t download any apps.

Jeff Chandler (05:47):

Right. You can even take the name of the company, because typically if they show up on the Apple Store, the Google store. It’ll show the name of the vendor and you can go to the Better Business Bureau, even, look up that vendor and see if it’s a reputable business.

Dawn Gee (05:58):

So you have to do all of that before downloading an app?

Whitney Adkins (06:01):

If you really want that app, we recommend it. Versus having your information stolen, or just having your phone loaded down with junk.

Dawn Gee (06:09):

All right. And then free gift cards, no such thing.

Whitney Adkins (06:12):

Very rarely. I know your inbox, just like mine right now, is probably inundated with coupons, special offers, and last minute sales, and a lot of those are legitimate. But anytime you see a free gift card… Nothing is free, right? And if it’s tied to, as Jeff will agree, if it’s click here, fill out this survey. Big red flags that it’s not a legitimate offer, that, again, it’s likely a fishing attempt. So just ignore, don’t click on any links from unsolicited messages or emails. Stick to the retailers that you can trust. Those sales will always be there.

Jeff Chandler (06:51):

They’re counting on you being in a hurry. Everybody’s in a hurry in the holiday season, you’re trying to get things done, and so you’re just not paying attention and you click the link because you just want to get it done, you want to check that package. And that’s what they’re counting on.

Dawn Gee (07:03):

Yeah. Don’t be in a-

Whitney Adkins (07:03):

Don’t rush.

Dawn Gee (07:04):

All right. They’re telling me my time is up here. BBB.org, you see that there. Jeff, did I forget anything for you?

Jeff Chandler (07:11):

No, just be careful. Watch what you’re doing. Passwords, we talk about that a lot. Just make sure you’re using really good passwords for your bank accounts and your accounts.

We recommend you use a password manager to track all of your passwords so that you can more easily use different ones on all of your accounts. Read our free password manager guide to learn more about this.

Dawn Gee (07:19):

And don’t use the same ones. And change them…

Jeff Chandler (07:24):

Don’t use the same one.

Dawn Gee (07:24):

…often. I am learning. I am learning.

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