Holiday (and everyday) Online Shopping Safety

Written by Josh Brown, VP Director of Security at The Fauquier Bank

Cyber Monday began early. Did the last one ever really end?  It is estimated that more holiday shopping was conducted online for “Black Friday” than in brick and mortar stores this year.  To be fair, some of the brick and mortar stores have an online presence.  So, how do you keep your account safe when shopping online?

Watch out for the hook! We all want to save money, but when a relatively new site offers something at a ridiculously low price it may just be a hook to get you to enter your card information for a scammer.  Though a popular tactic year-round, it really picks up during the holiday rush.  The old motto “if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t” still rings true.

It doesn’t mean what you think it means! Everyone is told to look for the padlock on a website.  All the padlock means is the communications is secure between the sender and receiver.  If the site is hacked, the information is still compromised.  And nowhere does it say a criminal can’t use a secure link to scam you.  Hey, they want to protect the information they are stealing too!

Read the screen! Or maybe better yet, read the URL.  If you click on a link in an online advertisement you may be redirected to a great looking scam website.  Hover your mouse over the link to see what it really says.  On a cellphone, just press on the link for a few seconds.  When you release your finger, the actual address will appear.  And really read it.  A website like filter,com could be spoofed as fi1ter.com.  Did you see that, I replaced the lower case “L” with the number 1.  When in doubt, type in the correct web address (URL).

We have your back! There is quite a bit of bad information out there about what banks will or won’t do if you have been defrauded.  A debit card is just as safe as a credit card to use online.  If you are defrauded, and you bring unauthorized charges to our attention within 60 days, you will be reimbursed.  Not just for the fraudulent charges, but fees as well.

Happy shopping!

-TFB