Fraudsters may be licking their chops over nefarious plots to scam online holiday shoppers, but good old common sense can be an effective security shield against their ploys, researchers say.
For starters, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, said Andrew H. Te, CEO of PowWeb, a hosting company for small and medium-sized businesses.
As more people swarm online to do some holiday shopping this year, Te and his company are putting the word out for online shoppers to remember the basics of safe navigation.
They have a lot more people to warn. According to AC Neilsen, 84 percent of Americans are planning to buy at least one holiday gift online this year. That's up by nearly 10 percent compared to the same time last year. Indeed, even by mid-November, Nielsen//NetRatings's sixth annual holiday e-shopping index showed a 60 percent jump in online shopping visits from the week prior.
If you're among the swarm of shoppers heading for e-commerce sites, don't forget tips offered by the FBI and Federal Trade Commission to avoid Internet scams, PowWeb said. They include:
- Make sure virus protection is up to date and firewalls are enabled.
- Be wary of unsolicited e-mail that asks, either directly or through a Web site, for personal, financial or identity information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or passwords.
- Don't click on the links provided in such e-mails.
- When updating account information, use a familiar process such as visiting the known Web address of a company's account maintenance page. Unfamiliar addresses for this are probably fake.
- Make sure an Internet connection is secure before submitting personal information. Look for third-party verifications such as those offered by TrustE, BBBOnline and VeriSign.
- Monitor credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges.
- If an e-mail or Web site is in doubt, make sure the request is authentic by contacting the company directly by phone or through a Web site or e-mail address known to be authentic.
- People victimized by fraudulent e-mails or Web sites should contact their local police department and file a complaint with the FBI and the FTC.
Consumers also should report fraudulent or suspicious e-mails to their Internet service provider.
And overall, as they say in the bricks and mortar world, when in doubt, check it out.
Adapted from internetnews.com.
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