Keep your money and personal data safe as you shop this holiday season
Despite inflation, 74% of Americans still plan to the same or more this holiday season.
As people work to find the perfect gifts, DATCP is urging shoppers to protect themselves.
Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection Michael Domke says criminals can do a lot with your personal data if they get a hold of it.
“It can be exploited in a number of ways. Whether that be creating fictious accounts, be it banks accounts or online accounts, or even vendor accounts. Maybe creating new utility bills with that information,” said Domke. “There are so many new scams that are out there as well as old scams that personal information can be used if you’re not paying attention. Your bills statements or credit reports, this may go on for quite a while before you’re even aware of it.”
When shopping online, Domke says you should double check the URL of the site you’re using.
If it doesn’t match the store name or something seems off, that’s usually a good indication it’s not a legitimate site.
“The other is how did you get there. We really encourage everyone not to get to that chopping website through a promotional email or text message and a link that they get. If they see that there’s something being promoted to a google search or type in the web address yourself to make sure you’re getting to that trusted website,” he said.
You should also double check your shopping cart. Sometimes sites will try to get you to buy related items to what you really want. If you’re not careful you could add them to the cart.
Gifts cards are usually a top gift, but they’re also vulnerable to scams.
Domke recommends you buy them in a store where you can inspect the card.
“We encourage everyone to take a real close look at the card and make sure it hasn’t been tampered with. Make sure that the security numbers and pin are still covered. Make sure it doesn’t appear to be a duplicate sticker or anything,” said Domke. “That’s the biggest concern is looking, grabbing those numbers, depleting the funds and then you’re buying a card that isn’t worth anything.”
While on the topic of gift cards, Domke also wants to remind people that no legitimate business or utility will demand gift cards as a form of payment.
If you have concerns or believe you are a victim of a scam you can contact the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 422-7128 or email at DATCPHotline@wi.gov.