December 16, 2013

Missouri DIFP cautions consumers this holiday season

Use extra precautions when making online purchases

Jefferson City, Mo. - While the holiday season brings joy to Missourians shopping online for family and friends or donating to a charitable organization, it also brings out the scam artists.

"Unfortunately, there are a large number of fraudulent websites and scammers who prey upon innocent consumers this time of year," said John M. Huff, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration. "We all need to pay special attention to safeguarding our personal and financial information."

The Missouri Division of Finance offers these tips for Missourians who shop online:

  • Use your own computer or one from a trusted source, and make sure your security software is updated and running.
  • Verify that the website is a known and trusted retailer or charity. Addresses that start with an "https" indicate a secure site.
  • Look for reviews and ratings from the Better Business Bureau or on Google before dealing with retailers or charities.
  • Never email your personal, bank or credit card information. Legitimate businesses may email you a receipt, but will never ask you to email information or call them.
  • Keep all receipts and know a store's return policy before making a purchase.
  • Be especially careful when purchasing gift cards. Many scammers use online auctions to sell gift cards that appear to be legitimate. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card for purchases. If your card is fraudulently used, there is far less financial risk with a credit card.
  • Review your credit card and bank account statements every month. Immediately notify the provider if you detect an error.

Following these tips will help ensure your financial identity is protected and your holidays will be joyous and happy. For more information, consumers may contact the Division of Finance.