Fraud Prevention Series: 5 Tips to Avoiding Online Shopping Fraud

July 13, 2021

Online shopping is fun, but does not always go as planned. In 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) Internet Crime Complaint Center received 791,790 complaints from the American public including reported losses of more than $4.1 billion, according to its annual report. This was a 69% increase in the number of complaints over 2019. Here are five ways to protect yourself from online shopping fraud.
1. Shop with who you know
A good practice is to shop directly with reputable online retailers you know and trust. Bookmark your favorite shopping sites to avoid having to type the retailer’s name into your browser. Even a tiny typo could take you to a fake site. Making a “purchase” on an illegitimate site may allow scammers to access your credit card number and other personal information.
2. Check out new-to-you sites
Before purchasing from an unknown seller, do your homework. Search the retailer’s name on the Better Business Bureau’s website and look at online reviews. Many fraudsters take over the contact information of legitimate businesses to make their fake sites look real. The FBI recommends looking for a U.S. address and phone number on the retailer’s website and calling it to verify that it is a legitimate business.
3. Use strong passwords
By using unique and strong passwords for each of your accounts, you have a better chance of keeping cyber thieves from accessing your personal information. It is a best practice to use a complex set of both lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols when creating your passwords. 
4. Pay with a credit card, not a debit card
It’s best to use a credit card to shop online for several reasons. First, a credit card doesn’t allow a retailer direct access to your bank account like a debit card does. Second, most credit cards offer zero liability protection, meaning you’re not out any money if a fraudster uses your account information to make a purchase. 
5. Watch for fraud
Review your financial account and credit card statements for fraudulent charges at least once per month. You can also set up account alerts through your financial institution’s mobile app to notify you of any new activity on your card. 
Online shopping can be safe and secure if you practice these simple rules. 

Tags: Fraud Prevention Series, Security, Money Management