Don’t be a victim: Tips for avoiding scams this holiday shopping season

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on, many people are more comfortable shopping at home than going to crowded stores.

The consulting firm Deloitte forecasts that e-commerce sales will grow by 25% to 35%, year-over-year, during the 2020-2021 holiday season. And the National Retail Federation said that in September, online and other non-store sales were up 27 percent year over year.

And while those number may look great for online retailers, they also look good for those seeking to scam online shoppers.

PennLive reached out to Terrill Frantz, associate professor and program lead for Cybersecurity Management and Operations at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, and Ronald Jones, who also teaches cyber security at Harrisburg University, to get their take on how shoppers can avoid being victims this holiday shopping season.

Here are six scams to watch for and tips on how to lower your chances of being defrauded:

Don’t click on links in emails

We get unsolicited emails all the time.

Jones said that you might get a message that looks like it is from PayPal or some other well-known company, notifying you that there is a problem with your account. If it’s from a scammer, and you enter your username and password, they then save the information and will transfer your money to a foreign account.

Jones said that this is a big scam right now and while these emails might look legitimate they’re not.

“Basically the rule is — don’t ever click on anything that is in an email,” he said.

“Urgent” emails

Any email that proclaims a great sense of urgency — an “immediate” or near-term call for you to take an action quickly “before time runs out” — is a red flag and will likely lead to phishing, according to Frantz.

Phishing is a fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to get someone to reveal personal information, including passwords and credit card numbers.

“What they are going to see are essentially phishing attacks,” Frantz said. “They are going to get emails to ask them to click a link under the pretext of donating to some charity [or] ordering something from Amazon real quick.”

Always be wary when you see the word “urgent”.

“That’s the tell-tale sign that you have a threat coming your way,” Frantz said. “That’s what the scammers use.”

Things having to do with the holidays and/or COVID-19 are perfect excuses for urgent replies.

When it says urgent, slow down the process before making a decision. Maybe wait a day before you make any decisions. “Time is the bad guy’s enemy and therefore it is the good guy’s buddy,” Frantz said.

“Too good to be true”

There’s that old saying: If it seems “too good to be true,” it probably is.

If an email is sent to you from a company that has a subscription service, for instance, and they are offering you a free subscription, that should be a red flag, Frantz said.

He added

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About Wedding Insurance and Avoiding Related Losses

Congratulations! You are engaged to be married!

After a couple decides to marry, there is a lot of exciting planning to do for a wedding.
From booking the hall to renting or buying proper wedding attire and hiring the services of vendors such as a caterer, a florist, a band, a photographer, a videographer and others, the event requires carefully thought-out preparations.

But as luck would have it, perceived results of wedding plans do not always fall into a no-fail outcome. Accidents and heart-dropping mishaps can – and often do – occur even at the biggest day of a new couple's life together.

Fortunately, there is wedding insurance to cover any related upset.

Here are some important things a wedding insurance policy can cover.

Insurance Coverage for the Wedding Event

Liability: If the hall or equipment incurs damages that the wedding party is responsible or if a guest gets injured at the event, wedding liability insurance can pay for associated costs.

Cancellation or Postponement: If an unexpected event occurs, like extreme weather or illness, and the wedding has to be called off or postponed, this coverage will pay for the related expenses.

Vendor Failure: In the event the photographer or other wedding vendor does not show up or does not deliver goods at pledged date, this will give you coverage.

Wedding Gift Loss: This coverage extends to items presented as gifts to the bride and groom, but not for cash or gift certificates or cards.

Special Attire: If any of the special clothing worn by the wedding party is lost, stolen or damaged, this coverage will pay for replacement or repair.

Special Wedding Jewelry: If the ring or other special jewelry for the event is damaged, lost or stolen, this coverage will step in to pay for associated costs.

Loss of Wedding Related Deposits: in the event on of the hired wedding vendors goes out of business and does not deliver services or goods, this coverage will pay for deposit losses.
Liquor Liability: If the wedding party is liable for damages or injury due to intoxication at the event, this form of insurance will cover the costs.

Just as there is no person or couple that is alike, each wedding comes with its unique set of exposures. Speaking with an experienced independent agent about your related insurance needs will clarify the issues. Moreover, an independent agency offers policies from many different companies and the expertise of a professional shopping the insurance network for you to present tailored coverage at competitively lowest rates!

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