Like most people, you’re probably buying a lot of things online these days. Most online retailers are relatively safe, but scammers are always finding new ways to steal your money and your valuable personal data.
AARP has launched a nationwide Fraud Watch Network to act as a clearinghouse of information about the scams being run online today, and the measures you need to employ to thwart the crooks.
Here are some of their best tips, (with our own advice added in as well):
- Avoid oversharing online: You can conduct most business without giving anyone your Social Security Number, so don’t. This applies even to companies you do business with regularly, including your doctor’s office (who can get it from your insurance company if needed).
- Each week, check your bank and credit card statements. This way, you can spot fraud fast while your transactions are still fresh in your mind.
- Access your free credit reports every four months at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also get credit score information for free from a growing number of financial institutions and specialty sites. (Just watch out for “free credit score” offers that are just come-ons for paid services.)
- Never ship or do any financial transaction on public Wi-Fi networks. That includes checking banking or credit card accounts.
- When online shopping, type website addresses yourself. Following links in emails, advertisement or online searches can take you to right to a scammer-run site, or can cause malware to be downloaded to your computer.
Follow these tips and you can spare yourself a lot of grief, potentially. The biggest tip is to be aware, and perhaps a bit suspicious. Scammers are getting more and more creative all the time, and fraud is on the rise. Don’t let them scam you.
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