Preventing online identity theft

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – With millions of people shopping online for the holiday, online scammers are poised to play "Scrooge".

Identity thieves never take a holiday, so you have to be vigilant about safeguarding the belongings we use every day, like your social security number and bank account information.

For millions of Americans, Santa's little helper, is a computer mouse.

"It's convenient; I get to avoid the traffic and the crowds in the malls, so the convenience has always been very attractive to people to shop online," Scott Silverman, Nation Retail Federation.

For online scammers, that can be the gift that keeps on giving.

"The holiday season is actually open season for scammers and they're out there and ready to take advantage of as many people as they can," said Alison Southwick, Council of Better Business Bureau.

They say it's better to give than to receive, but don't extend that spirit of the season to identity thieves.

"If I had to go with one piece of advice for holiday shoppers, it would be, start with trust. And that means to research that company thoroughly before you do business with them, before you hand over any credit card information," Southwick said.

After you've placed an order, don't get fooled by emails phishing for more information.

"The best thing to do is not click on any links in that email, but instead directly contact the company through their website, through the contact information that they provide on their website to confirm that there really is a problem," said Southwick

And keep extra tabs on your credit cards too.

"Don't wait for that monthly statement. Check it several times a week to make sure that there aren't any suspicious charges," Southwick said.

Also, be sure to install virus protection and anti-spyware software on your P.C. Don't open suspicious looking emails. Delete them. Always use secure, web servers -- and never throw away an old computer without erasing the hard drive first.

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