How to stay safe when shopping for holiday gifts online

Alabama News

FILE – In this Dec. 12, 2016 file photo, a person in Miami searches the internet for sales. Online shopping scams are on the rise as thieves look to take advantage of the increase in people shopping online during the pandemic. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Christmas is fast approaching, which means holiday shopping is on the rise. Although it can be easy to get caught up in the gift-giving season, local law enforcement agencies are reminding us to be vigilant for possible digital crimes and scams.

Local law enforcement along the Gulf Coast are highlighting some helpful tips to keep you safe while shopping during the Holiday season. 

Digital Scams

Holiday shoppers should be on the look out for online scammers who might try to access your personal information or your electronic funds.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama reported a potential Cash App scam on Facebook. Cash App, is a free app where users can send and receive money simply by searching for a username. 

The post offered to give $1800 to families in need who “qualify” for the offer. In order to receive the money, users had to give away personal information, including their cash app information. 

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office reminded residents of the Golden Rule.

“If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is”

 Post from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Alabama

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OSCO) reported a potential scam involving cryptocurrency payments. The alleged scammers call residents and pretend to be Sheriffs, deputy and investigators, according to a Facebook post from the OSCO. 

The scammers then threatened to arrest residents if they did not send cryptocurrency payments, according to the post. One of the most common examples of cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, an electronic form of currency that can be sent through Cash App and other money transferring apps that work similarly to Cash App, like Coinbase and PayPal.

Protecting your information online

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office highlighted some important ways you can stay safe against cyber scams and criminal activity:

  • Use a Credit card or secure payment service 
  • Check your bank statements regularly
  • Be wary of malicious emails and links
  • Check the link to make sure you haven’t been routed to a different site
  • Be aware of rock-bottom “too good to be true” deals
  • Avoid public WiFi networks unless you use a VPN (virtual private network)

By using the tips mentioned above, holiday shoppers reduce the risk of exposing the computer to viruses, malware or ransomware, which give criminals access to your personal information

Another important thing that shoppers can do is contact their local law enforcement. If you suspect that a digital post or advertisement is trying to scam you or gain access to your personal information, contact local law enforcement. Chances are, you’re not the only person who is being targeted.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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