Living in a time where convenience is a commodity can be both a blessing and a curse. Bills are paid online, automatically deducting from from your bank account on a monthly basis. Shopping, ordering takeout and even streaming TV are all available at your fingertips. In such luxury, it has become easy for most people to let their guards down, allowing scams and scam artists to harp on the vulnerability of everyday, convenience-loving people. Although the use of the internet is appreciated and beneficial to busy lifestyles, it is important that you safeguard yourself and your family from threatening scams online.
One of the most valuable features one may use online frequently is using a credit card to pay for services or merchandise. While making purchases online seems inevitable, it is important that you pay attention to a few key factors before submitting your payment information online. When you are on the website in which you are making a purchase, be sure to identify that it is a secured site. On your browser there will be a padlock, stating the you are indeed on a secured website and it is okay to proceed with entering your credit card information. If for some reason you are still uncertain about the security of a website, conduct a simple google search to read the history of reviews from those who have previously used the site to make purchases. It is never a bad idea to be informed before reaching for your wallet.
When you are using online services be sure to never give your credit card information out over email, as there is no way protection can be provided should the transaction go awry. For your protection, be sure to stay on top of your monthly statements after making any online purchases. If you notice a charge that you did not initiate, call your credit card company’s fraud department immediately and file a dispute. The perk of using a credit card online is that almost any fraud attempt can be disputed and refunded back to you.
If you suspect that your credit card has been compromised by a spammer, report it to the Federal Trade Commission or to Online Complaint Assistance immediately. It has been estimated that over $40 billion is lost annually to consumer fraud, so it is imperative that you take action against any suspicious activity you find. For reporting more specific cases of fraudulent activity, visit usa.gov for more ways you can take action.
Be sure to warn your household to be on the lookout for suspicious online activity, especially your teenager(s). A lot of scams target teens because they are vulnerable and less likely to question unknown sources. Highly visible scams include pop ups and emails claiming that they have won a prize such as an expensive electronic device and in order to receive it they must enter credit card information to pay for shipping and handling. Of course once the credit card information is received by the scammer, they will begin to make a number of charges. Make your teen aware of such fraudulent behavior and have them consult with you before making any purchases online.
Having your information compromised online is a very terrifying act. Theft of this sort robs you of your piece of mind and valuable time as you have to backtrack to clear any charges made against your permission. Use precaution when using your credit card and personal information online, but do not let the potential of fraud deter you from using the internet. As long as you are informed your chances of being a victim to scams slim greatly.