How to protect yourself while shopping online


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Cyber Monday is the perfect time to find great holiday shopping deals online. It’s also a prime time for scam artists and identity thieves to wreak havoc on your bank account.

Protect your personal information and avoid scams by following these recommendations from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine:

  1. Install updates on your devices before shopping. Installing updates on your phone, tablet, computer, or other electronic devices can add new security patches and critical files, so make sure your apps, anti-virus software, operating systems, and other important programs are up to date before entering payment information. Remember to download or install updates only from the official app provider.
  2. Review complaints against online sellers. Check for consumer complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau. Also use a search engine to type the name of the company or website along with terms such as “complaint,” “scam,” or “review.” If you find mostly negative information, or if you find no information at all, be skeptical. Don’t enter any personal information if a website seems less than credible.
  3. Use a secure Internet connection. Before entering a credit card number or other personal information, be sure the web address begins with “https” instead of “http.” The “s” indicates a secure connection. Also, do not use free, public Wi-Fi to log in to your bank accounts or to enter your credit card or other financial account information.
  4. Pay with a credit card. When you pay with a credit card, you generally have stronger protections against fraudulent charges. Be sure to save documentation, such as invoices and confirmation emails, to compare them against your credit card statements. If you find any unusual activity or unauthorized purchases, report it to your credit card provider immediately. Also, be suspicious of any sellers that require you to pay via wire transfer or prepaid money card. These are preferred payment methods for scam artists, because it is difficult to recover or trace the money once it’s sent.
  5. Don’t respond to pop-up messages. Some pop-up messages are placed by scam artists hoping to obtain your money or personal information. For example, in one version of the “tech support scam,” you receive a pop-up message from someone who claims to represent your computer company and says your device has been infected with a virus. The message prompts you to call for more information. Eventually a representative asks you for payment information or access to your computer to help fix the problem. Even if it sounds legitimate, it’s actually a scam.

To learn more about cybersecurity or to report a potential scam, visit the Ohio Attorney General’s Office website or call 800-282-0515.

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