Protect Children’s Information This Holiday Season; Avoid Scams

Protect Children’s Information This Holiday Season; Avoid Scams

By / State News / الأربعاء, 16 كانون1/ديسمبر 2015 05:00

RALEIGH, N.C. : December 10th, 2015 - A massive breach of customer data from toy manufacturer VTech is a timely reminder to guard your child’s personal information this holiday season.
 According to a statement from the company, data on about 6.4 million children and about 4.9 million parents were affected worldwide. Information like children’s names and dates of birth and parents’ email addresses, passwords, and security questions were stolen and could be used by thieves to gain access to other accounts.
 If you register toys, games, and other items received as gifts during the holidays, take steps to keep your children’s information safe.
To protect yourself and your family:
• Avoid sharing children’s personal information like their home address, phone number, and social security numbers.
• Don’t use the same password for more than one account, and change passwords periodically.
• When using social media, share information about yourself and your children carefully.
• Talk to your children about what information they should and should not share when setting up an account or using a toy or device that allows them to communicate with others.
• Consider getting a security freeze to protect your children’s credit from fraud. Under North Carolina law, parents will be able to request security freezes for their children beginning January 1, 2016.
• Let the Consumer Protection Division know about data breaches or potential identity thefts by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or filing a complaint online at ncdoj.gov.
Tips for a safe and festive holiday season
The holiday season is a great time of year filled with fun activities and time with family. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday excitement but it’s important to take the necessary precautions to avoid crimes, scams and accidents.
Nothing ruins good cheer faster than becoming the victim of a crime or scam. Rather than taking a break for the holidays, criminals and con artists often prey on distracted shoppers and target homes or cars filled with gifts. By using a little caution and common sense, you can protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season.
 • Make your home less appealing to thieves. Keep presents away from windows and doors, and lock up every time you leave. If you’re headed out of town, remember to stop delivery of your mail or get someone to pick it up for you to make sure that identity thieves don’t get it. Also, consider setting your lights on an automatic timer to make it look like someone is home.
• Stay safe while shopping. Use caution when shopping for gifts by going during daylight hours when possible. If you have to shop at night, try to go with a friend or family member. Park and walk in well-lit areas, and lock valuables and packages in the trunk rather than leaving them out where thieves may see them. If you feel unsafe walking to your car after dark, ask a store clerk or mall security for an escort.
• Shop safely online, too. If you shop online, stick to buying from well-established companies with secure web sites (look for a lock icon on the site and a web address that starts with “https”). Keep records of your orders and pay by credit card to protect yourself if your order doesn’t arrive.
• Require signature for deliveries. Thieves have been known to follow delivery trucks into neighborhoods and steal packages left on doorsteps. Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up any packages that arrive while you’re away or opt to have your package held at the nearest service location.
• Remember that criminals and scammers don’t take a holiday. Always be aware of your surroundings and protect your wallet and access to your credit or debit cards when in public. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Consider paying by credit card because federal law limits your liability if your credit card is stolen. And never share personal information with telemarketers who call you or respond to emails or text messages that ask you for personal information.
Avoid scams and surprises when shopping online
Consumers who plan to skip the crowds by shopping online this holiday season must take steps to protect their money and personal information, Attorney General Roy Cooper warned on Cyber Monday.
“Online shoppers may save time and avoid crowds, but they aren’t immune to scams,” Cooper said. “Use caution when you shop online, and guard your money and your personal information no matter how you shop during the holidays.”
Cooper offered the following tips to help holiday shoppers protect themselves from cyber-criminals and bad business deals.
• Shop sites you know and trust. Research unfamiliar sites with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and your local Better Business Bureau. You can also check online reviews to spot potential problems. Watch out for copycat websites that try to trick you by looking like a legitimate company’s site.
• Compare prices yourself. Just because a website claims to beat prices at competitor sites or brick-and-mortar retailers doesn’t mean it’s true. To get the best deals, compare prices online and off. Also, beware of counterfeit or knock off products that may be poor quality.
• Read the return policy carefully. Merchants aren’t required by law to accept returns. Some online retailers won’t let you return items to their local stores, while others charge a restocking fee or won’t let you return opened items. Many online retailers require you to pay for shipping if you want to return or exchange an item.
•  Know how to contact the company if there’s a problem. Get the company’s street address and telephone number and verify them before you order. Be especially careful when shopping overseas sites, since no U.S. or state agency has legal authority over business deals with companies in other countries.
• Check site security before you enter any payment information. Look for a lock icon on the website and a web address that starts with “https."
• Consider paying by credit card. If your order doesn’t arrive or isn’t what you expected, you can dispute it with your credit card company. Federal law also limits your liability to $50 if your credit card number gets stolen. Get a credit card with a low limit that you use only for online shopping. Remember that cards with new EMV chip technology are not any more secure when it comes to online shopping.
• Be wary of pop ups at the end of an online purchase that offer you money off your next purchase. These can wind up signing you up for discount clubs, travel memberships or other services you don’t really want, with fees appearing later on your credit card or bank statement.
• Ask when your order will arrive. Internet and catalog shoppers are protected by the Federal Mail Order Rule. By law, a company is required to ship your order within the time stated. If you aren’t given a delivery date, the company has 30 days once your order is received. If the item doesn’t ship on time, the seller must let you know and allow you to cancel for a full refund.
• Require signature for deliveries. Thieves have been known to follow delivery trucks into neighborhoods and steal packages left on doorsteps. Opt to have your package held at the nearest service location if you expect it to be delivered when you aren’t at home.
• Print out and save records of all online orders. Keep the product description, price, online receipt, order number and customer service number. Save any emails the company sends you confirming your purchase or updating you on the status of an order.
•  Review your credit card statements. Some consumers have complained about unauthorized charges billed to their account after they shop online. Contact your credit card company immediately to report any charges you didn’t authorize, and request a refund and a new card.
• Protect your identity. Guard your Social Security, driver’s license and bank account numbers when you shop online. Only share financial information via secure sites, never by email. Don’t respond to unsolicited emails or telemarketing calls that ask for your personal information.
• Take quick steps if your information is compromised. If you get notice that your personal financial information has been compromised due to a data breach, follow our recommended steps to protect yourself from identity theft.
To check out a company or file a consumer complaint, call the Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina.  Consumers can also file complaints online and get more holiday shopping tips at www.ncdoj.gov
Source: North Carolina Department of Justice.

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