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7 shopping scams online during the holidays

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Santa Claus is coming to town—and so are online thieves. How might they nab you, and what can you do to prevent it?

1. Stick with familiar retailers. Unbelievably low prices are a red flag, since competitors are always checking each other’s prices.

2. Customer reviews aren’t necessarily the gospel. An unscrupulous seller may hire people to write favorable reviews. Though one clue is that the same reviewer has reviewed tons of products, other reviews are crafted more cleverly. Identical reviews on different sites are suspicious.

3. Phishing, anyone? The crook sends you the bait: an e-mail that looks like it’s from a reputable company, with a malicious link to a site that looks like the company’s, requesting you turn over your username, password or credit card number. Do this and the thieves will spend your money.

4. Carefully review credit card statements. Even if you never online shop, your purchases are processed online, where fraud can take place, resulting in unauthorized charges. Also, crooked employees can use your credit card number for purchases.

5. Sell with caution. You receive a check for that item you put on eBay, but the buyer “overpaid” and asks you to send the difference back via Western Union WU -1.44% or Moneygram. You do this—before you learn that their check is fake.

6. Meeting Craigslist sellers and buyers. Meet only in safe, public places. Inform the seller you’ll first meet without any cash, just to inspect the sale item. If you want to buy it, get your money from an ATM.

7. Don’t purchase stolen products. Request proof of ownership. Or, request the serial number and see if your state keeps a database of stolen items.

Retailers are also doing a lot behind the scenes to protect consumers, by layering fraud protection tools including address verification services, two-factor authentication, device reputation technology and behavioral analysis. As devices (such as computers and mobile devices) with fraudulent histories connect to the retailer’s website, the business is alerted in real time.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247

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