Just a few weeks ago, I received a notice via Facebook Messenger that my order had been received. I got a bit of a sinking feeling in my stomach…WHAT order? It was a Sunday and I had just come from church. I had not been online shopping. And a total of $525?? What had just happened here?
Come to find out, someone had tampered with my online furniture store account and had purchased a $500 air humidifier (Um, no, not ever). Well, I am thankful to God that I saw it as soon as I did. I made a call to the company and put them on notice that a fraudulent purchase had been charged to my account. In addition, I changed my password there and on the payment account that it was linked to. I put in a notice to that company as well. The matter was eventually resolved, but not before a $500+ charge hit my bank account, causing overdraft charges of $30 a piece. It was a bit of a hassle to say the least, and it took several days to get everything right side up. Not something that I want to experience again.
Check out this infographic from LifeLock, a forerunner in proactive identity theft protection for customers:
With the holiday season coming up, many of us will be shopping online to save time and to find exactly what we want. How can we better protect ourselves to lessen the possibility of fraud and to stay safer? Here are five tips from my own personal experience that I recommend:
Shop from reputable sites.
I look for companies and services that have been around for a while, that are pretty established. This helps me to feel that there is accountability for a particular business, and that I will be heard if I have an issue. If I am shopping from a small business or a new one, I will use PayPal so that they never see my card info. This is not a guarantee that nothing will go wrong, but it does give a few extra layers of security when I shop online.
Use a credit card.
I use my debit card frequently because I like spending cash with the convenience of a card. Nevertheless, when I shop online, my hubby and I prefer to use a credit card. Why? I feel safer should something go awry. With my bank, my credit card purchases are reimbursed should they be found to be fraudulent. It is a great safety net. Also, my credit card isn’t directly tied to my bank account, so there isn’t a chance that my cash could be drained as well.
Use strong passwords for your sites.
There used to be a time when you could keep your passwords simple. In fact, you could use variations of the same password across different accounts and sites. Well, that method has gone the way of the dinosaur. It is just not safe anymore to use an easy password, especially on sites that have to do with your money (i.e. banking, shopping, etc.) In fact, many online sites almost force you to create a password with a combo of numbers, letters, cases, and special characters. Don’t balk at the idea, just consider it to be another layer of protection. And go ahead and keep your passwords in a safe place. You probably can’t remember them all, so store them and store them somewhere reliable.
Check your statements.
I check my account that I use online almost once daily, even on the weekends. Originally, this was so that I could keep track of what checks and expenses had come through, and so that I could see my balance. Now, in addition, I check to make sure that no transactions have come through that I have not authorized. This can be a crucial habit if your bank has a time limit on reporting any fraudulent transactions.
Take action immediately if you notice anything shady with your transaction.
When the aforementioned incident happened to me, I went home and sent an email to the company right away. I saw that they had Sunday call hours, and so I took the time to make a phone call to inform them of the breach, which they appreciated. Yes, it may be a hassle to have to stop and do that, but it could be a blessing in the end. One, it gets the process of recovery of funds started right away. Two, the company is aware of the problem immediately, which works in your favor.
I hope that you find these helpful. Has online fraud ever happened to you? If so, what tips do you have to protect against it happening again? I would love to hear your input in the comments!
Here’s to safer online shopping,