6. Don’t fall for a phishing email or pop-up. Legitimate companies don’t send unsolicited email messages asking for your password, login name, or your financial information. But scammers do, and it’s called “phishing.” Crooks often send emails that look like they’re from legitimate companies — but direct you to click on a link, where they ask for your personal information. Delete these emails.
7. Be careful when shopping for a gift in an online auction. Consumers sometimes turn to auctions for harder-to-find collectibles or expensive electronics. Understand how the auction works and check out the seller’s reputation before you bid. Use safe ways to pay, like a credit card. If you use a third party payment system, read the terms carefully to understand what protection, if any, it offers if you don’t receive what you were promised. Always ask about terms of delivery and return options. Be especially wary of auctions that ask for payment via wire transfer.
8. Turn your computer off when you’re finished shopping. Many people leave their computers running 24/7, the dream scenario for scammers who want to install malicious software —“malware”— on your machine and then control it remotely to enable them to commit cyber crime. To be extra safe, switch off your computer when you are not using it.
9. Don’t be tempted by offers of free money. Con artists take advantage of cash-strapped consumers during the holidays to offer personal loans or credit cards for a fee upfront. These scammers simply take the money and run. Beware of emails offering loans or credit, especially if you have credit problems.
10. Visit fraud.org to learn more about protecting yourself from online scams year-round and to report suspicious sites, sellers, or scams. You don’t have to be a victim to report a scam, and your information will help law enforcement go after cyber grinches.
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