Consumer Alert: Regulators Warn Consumers to be Cautious When Making Online PurchasesHARTFORD — The holiday season is upon us, and it can be easy to let our guard down when we’re surrounded by sales, and offers that often sound too good to be true. More holiday purchases happen online than in store on Black Friday – so it’s become even more important to ensure we’re protecting our financial information, and our identity online.
“While it is the season for giving, scammers and fraudsters are always on the take” said Commissioner Perez. “My advice is never let your guard down. Be leery of unsolicited e-mails, particularly those that ask for your personal financial information. These are known as ‘phishing’ e-mails and appear to be a reputable entity. Trust your instinct, and if you are unsure if an e-mail is legitimate verify the source before responding, even from apparently trusted sources and companies you’ve done business with in the past. Remember your financial institution will never ask for personally identifiable information, account numbers or passwords through email.”
“Scam artists and fraudsters are constantly adapting to find us in new places, including online,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “We encourage consumers to think twice before making a purchase on a website that seems suspect, or trusting a deal that sounds too good to be true. It’s important to invest a little time, and do research before committing to a purchase.”
Gift-givers shopping online this holiday season should use the following tips to ensure their financial information is protected:
- Always make sure your computer, tablet or smart phone has up to date virus protection, anti-malware and firewall software.
- Avoid using public networks or Wi-Fi hotspots for online shopping.
- Ensure you’re on a secure webpage when entering a card number. Look for a URL that begins with https:// (the “s” stands for SECURE) and a lock symbol toward the bottom of the page.
- Be suspicious of websites that don't allow you to easily verify a company's identity and legitimacy by clearly providing a physical address, telephone number and email address.
- Use a credit card for online purchases. Under federal law, you may dispute unauthorized charges to your credit card in writing. The law also limits your responsibility for unauthorized charges to $50.
- Carefully check your credit card and bank statements regularly. If you discover any charges you did not make, contact your financial institution immediately.
To report a suspected fraud or scam, please contact the Department of Banking’s Consumer Affairs Division, at 860-240-8170 or firstname.lastname@example.org or file online at ct.gov/dob.
If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a scam, purchased a product that was misrepresented, or have done business with someone who didn’t fulfill their contract, you may file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection by emailing email@example.com.
Department of Banking
Department of Consumer Protection
Lora Rae Anderson
(860) 713-6019 (office)
(860) 247-8711 (cell)