This Mother’s Day, Don’t Give Mom the Gift of Identity Theft
There has been a lot of false consternation and misspent yowling that Congress somehow threatened our internet privacy by its recent decision to undo the Obama-era rules empowering the FCC to regulate the internet, but there remain real and serious threats to our online safety that continue to arise.
Scam Mother’s Day coupons have gone beyond viral, continuing the tradition of online criminal enterprises getting even more savvy in the ways they lure unsuspecting consumers to hand over their financial and personal information.
Perhaps it is the festive mood that grips people during special holidays that leads online shoppers to let down their guard, or possibly that the holidays present scammers and pirates large-scale opportunities to cast their nets into the online shopping waters. But as we’ve seen from Valentine’s Day, and even Christmas, this latest web-wide scam isn’t the first time we’ve seen this, and it won’t be the last.
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones? DON’T trust, but still verify!
- Anything appearing on your social media accounts should NOT be clicked, shared or responded to without first verifying, or to stay most safe, not at all.
- Do not jump through any hoops to obtain a coupon or special offer, such as filling out a survey or providing any personal information.
- Check the source – use your mouse to hover over any links and see if the url address that populates on your screen (usually at the bottom) appears legitimate and traces back to the main company website (if it looks odd or unfamiliar, don’t click!).
- Visit the store directly online and see what coupons or deals they are advertising, if you can’t find the deal you saw pop-up online, then it’s likely not entirely legitimate.
- Use a search engine to check if the coupon is legitimately available using terms from the ad, e.g. “coupon, 50%, sale, Mother’s Day, Lowes, May 14” etc.
- Be aware, and be smart. While our online experience is typically filled with numerous legitimate ads, be suspicious of the ones that come from unexpected sellers in unexpected places. If your online activity hasn’t included browsing sites related to home improvement or decoration, for example, be VERY suspicious of coupons from stores such as Lowe’s or Bed Bath and Beyond that suddenly appear on your account.
- Remember: Internet freedom and online security start with individual responsibility! For consumers to continue to enjoy internet freedom and the numerous benefits it brings, we all have a responsibility to be aware and be vigilant. It is highly recommended consumers keep their computer and online connection safe through protection in the form of firewalls, malware and spyware. As in our homes, we don’t just let anyone in who knocks, we first identify them. The same goes for online activities: know who you are dealing with FIRST, before you click!