Police Digital Forensic Analyst gives tips to protect yourself while shopping online

Jessica Harrington Image
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Digital forensic analyst gives tips to protect yourself while shopping
EMBED <>More Videos

Promises of deep discounts from the comfort of your home have many people turning to online shopping this holiday season.

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- Promises of deep discounts from the comfort of your home have many people turning to online shopping this holiday season.

But it also gives scammers the opportunity to steal your information if you're not careful.

At Target on Herndon Avenue in Clovis, shoppers are taking advantage of the extra drive-up spaces to pick up their online orders.

"I feel safer just being able to pull up and not get out of my car and all of that," said shopper Ryan Schebelut.

Christina Cirrincione just had a baby four days ago. She said using the drive-up was convenient so that she didn't have to take her baby out of the car.

While shopping online may help you avoid the crowds of shoppers at the stores, Digital Forensic Analyst Dustin Watkins with the Clovis Police Department says it can also make you vulnerable to scams.

"The biggest thing is if it's too good to be true, it's probably not," Watkins said.

To protect yourself, Watkins says to check the website's URL.

Scammers often misspell the URL of a real company to make it appear real.

He says you should also look for a padlock icon next to the web address.

"It makes sure you have a secure connection to the company and scammers who are trying to make a fake website won't pay for that, so it'll be unlocked at the top," Watkins said.

When it comes to unsolicited emails, be wary of clicking on any links.

Instead, Watkins says to go to the site directly and see if the deal exists or enter a promotion code there.

And if the email has a countdown timer saying the deal is about to expire - that's a red flag.

"It's a pressure sales tactic to get you to not think through how much of a scam it could be and just pull out the credit card and make a purchase right away," Watkins said.

Watkins says you should always shop online with a credit card so you can dispute transactions if you get scammed, and never enter your credit card number while connected to public WIFI.

After you've taken all those steps, avoid porch pirates by having your items shipped to a delivery box or the store directly.

The only time you don't want to use a credit card when shopping online is if you're buying directly from a person on sites like Offer Up or Facebook Marketplace.

Officials say in that case, you'll want to use cash and trade at a safe space like the exchange zone at the Clovis Police Department headquarters, where it's under video surveillance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.