As holiday shopping kicks into high gear, security experts are offering tips for avoiding efforts by scammers to separate people from their hard-earned money.
Carl Murphy, director of risk management for Colorado Credit Union, pointed to one increasingly common phishing scam, where fraudsters pose as a delivery representative from a trusted company via text or email to get people to hand over their credit card or other sensitive information.
“They’re posing as UPS and saying, ‘if you pay this $3 charge, we’ll deliver this package to you.’ People tend to not have an issue with paying $3, it’s a very small amount,” Murphy explained. “But once you provide your card information, they’re now using that card information to do much larger purchases.”
Murphy pointed out it is a good idea to review credit card, banking and other accounts, at least once a month. If you notice charges which could be fraudulent, file a dispute before protections expire, generally 60 days after your statement arrives.
If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, visit StopFraudColorado.gov for steps to take. It’s also a good idea to file a police report, to start a paper trail.
To make it harder for fraudsters to crack account passwords using software which lets them zip through thousands of possible combinations, Murphy suggested making passwords longer. For example, instead of your dog’s name 123, make it SpotLovesTakingLongWalks123.
Consumers tend to be more exposed during internet transactions, and Murphy noted many credit cards offer settings where cards can only be used online when you decide to unlock it.
“Ever since chips came out on cards, it’s a little harder for fraudsters to clone your card and get away with fraud inside of stores,” Murphy stressed. “So instead, they are turning toward e-commerce fraud.”
Many Coloradans decide to help nonprofits and charities during end-of-year fundraising appeals. Murphy urged consumers to do their homework to ensure the organization is real and actually doing the work. As a general rule, Murphy added never provide any sensitive personal information on a call you did not initiate.
“One important tip is not to answer phone calls of phone numbers that you do not recognize,” Murphy outlined. “If it’s an important phone call, they will probably call a second time, or they will leave a voicemail. Or these days they will probably text you. Scammers tend to move on.”