The holiday season is here and for many, this involves online shopping. While a convenient way to purchase gifts, it can result in identity theft scams – where someone’s personal information is used for financial gain. According to the Government of Canada, online scams accounted for more than 20,000 complaints and over $40 million in losses for Canadians in 2016. Here are some tips on avoiding online scams and how insurance can help.
Watch the websites
While purchases are a click away, it’s important to review the website. Reputable online retailers have secured websites. This means information in transactions is encrypted, which is a way to prevent customer information (such as a credit card number) from being leaked. Secure websites begin with “https” in the address and usually, a closed lock icon is visible within the website address.
Purchase on secure networks
Like the website address, it’s important to ensure the network used to access the website is secure. It’s ideal to avoid using public Wi-Fi for transactions as it could be hacked; this could result in someone’s credit card information being stolen. Using a home or private, secured network which is password protected is a much safer option.
Check anti-virus software
Another way to prevent identity theft with online shopping is ensuring a computer or mobile device has updated anti-virus software and anti-spyware filters. This measure is a way to add an additional layer of protection to a secure network. It could also help in catching computer viruses before they impact a computer or mobile device.
Keep away from “phishers”
If a purchase has been made online, a customer may receive a confirmation email. However, if personal or banking information is requested in an email message, it’s likely to be a scam – the request should not be answered. If this occurs, it’s important to contact the company to inform them of the message. Additionally, if the request includes a link, it should not be clicked. Not only could it bring a customer to a site to fill in their financial information but it could also result in a virus being downloaded.
How insurance can help
If someone’s identity is stolen, it could be costly – there could be legal fees, lost income from time away from work and fees to restore an identity. While the coverage will depend on the policy, identity theft insurance could help with these expenses. It’s often added to an existing home insurance policy and a BrokerLink broker can explain what type of coverage best suits the owner.
Other tips for the holidays
In addition to avoiding online scams, check out more of our holiday tips, which include:
- safely preparing a chimney, gas or wood-burning fireplace for the holidays
- protecting mall purchases during the holiday shopping rush
Have a safe and happy holiday!