Cyber safety tips for holiday shoppers

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, ’tis the season for spending – and surveys show that more than half of shoppers  plan to shop online this holiday season.

With that knowledge, the Department of Financial Institutions and its Financial Cybercrime Task Force of Kentucky are warning consumers to beware of the ever-growing variety of scams that target online shoppers and email users.

Scams to look out for:

  • Fraudulent ads, especially for big-ticket items such as vehicles offered at discounted prices. Scammers often use false contact information that appears to be from a reputable online marketplace to give the appearance of legitimacy.
  • Shipping notifications that deliver infected attachments.
  • Posts on social networking sites that request support for phony charitable causes.
  • E-cards that could contain malicious links.
  • Social engineering attacks, where someone attempts to gain access by befriending or otherwise gaining the victim’s confidence.
  • Phishing attacks, where malicious websites or emails solicit personal information under false pretenses.

Good online practices:

  • Do not follow unsolicited links.
  • Do not download attachments from unknown sources.
  • Only provide credit card information over encrypted websites. Look for “https” in the web address.
  • Research businesses before buying. Use search engines or other websites to verify legitimacy of the item and company. Check other searchable identifiers, such as telephone numbers and email addresses. Pay attention to negative feedback on seller reviews.
 Research company policies, such as types of payments accepted and return policies, before completing a transaction.
  • Be cautious with advertisements and special offers.
  • Maintain records for all online transactions.
  • Review transactions/statements regularly for unusual activity.

Consumers who suspect they are a victim of an Internet-related crime may file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at You may also file a report with local police.