SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — As families prepare for holiday shopping this year, the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) warns shoppers about scams that will likely increase in the next few weeks.
Online shopping has grown in popularity at exponential rates since 2020, whether it’s grocery purchases or an endless offering of gifts. The boosted traffic becomes lucrative for cyber thieves to trick buyers into scams and steal personal information for money.
DoIT Secretary and State CIO Jennifer Ricker said while the holidays are a busy time for people shopping virtually, making travel reservations and giving back to charities, cyber criminals are also busy taking advantage of these activities.
“We want to help our Illinois residents protect themselves against these malicious hackers by offering best practices to ensure they are cyber aware this holiday season and everyday,” Ricker said.
Here are some online shopping tips from the National Cyber Security Alliance:
- Think before you click: Beware of ads encouraging users to click on links, account warnings and shipping notifications. If you receive notice or an enticing offer, do not click on the link. Instead, go directly to the company’s website to verify the offer is legitimate.
- Do your homework: Cyber thieves are fond of setting up fake e-commerce sites. Prior to making a purchase, read reviews to hear what others say about the merchant. In addition, look for a physical location and any customer service information. It’s also a good idea to call the merchant to confirm that they are legitimate.
- Consider your payment options: Using a credit card is often recommended over a debit card, as there are more consumer protections for credit cards if something goes awry. Watch what you give away: Be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete your transaction. If the merchant is requesting more data than you feel comfortable sharing, cancel the transaction. You only need to fill out required fields at checkout and should never save your payment information in your profile.
- Keep tabs on your bank and credit card statements: Be sure to continuously check your accounts for any unauthorized activity. Good recordkeeping goes hand-in-hand with managing your cybersecurity.
DoIT reminds people to educate themselves on cyber scams and fraud to ensure they do not become victims.