Electronic Payments Safety

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, every day has been Black Friday. Since the beginning of April 2020, online shopping traffic has consistently surpassed Black Friday. Overall, it grew 108 percent over the year’s average. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of this increase in electronic payments with the FBI stating that cybercrime reports are up 400%. Below are tips to help you safely navigate making electronic payments while shopping online..

Before you shop online:

  • Consider getting a credit card just for electronic payments. If you decide to get a credit card or online account just for electronic payments, make sure the credit limit or available balance is low. This can protect you from a large loss due to online fraud.
  • Verify websites before entering important information. Clicking on a link may not take you where you expect to go. When shopping, banking, or making payments online, manually type in the website name (e.g., chase.com) instead of clicking on links in an email, social network post, or text message.
  • Don't use free Wi-Fi when making an electronic payment. The open nature of free Wi-Fi at cafes, airports, and other public venues makes it possible for others who are on the same Wi-Fi network to spy on your activities. If you cannot wait for another time to do your banking, use a VPN when using free Wi-Fi.
  • Look for the padlock icon in your browser. The padlock icon in the address bar of your web browser shows that the website you're visiting sends data in encrypted form. You are able to click on the icon in any browser for more details concerning the website you are on. Never send money or pay for goods on a site without this important safeguard, or if the padlock icon is red.

After you shop online:

  • Review your transactions regularly. Online banking allows you to check your account quickly and easily. Take time each day or each week to quickly review electronic payments. If you see charges you don't recognize, notify your bank or payment application vendor (e.g., Venmo, PayPal, or Apple Pay) as soon as possible.
  • Check your credit reports to help spot fraud. Credit reporting services Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are required to provide you with a free credit report once per year, so try to check one report every four months. You can access these reports at https://www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Look for deceptive emails and texts. Your bank or electronic payment processor won't ask you to provide personal information or passwords via email, but scammers will.
  • Ignore phone calls from unknown and unfamiliar numbers. If you receive a phone call from someone who is urgently asking for money, there's a good chance it's a scam. Most of these calls can be safely ignored, but if you want to check, search for the organization's website and find out for yourself. See our Imposter Scam tip for more information.