Don't invite cybercriminals to your wedding
As you prepare for your big day, keep in mind that you’ll need to do more than select centerpieces and bridesmaids gowns. Safeguarding your wedding plans from cybercrimes is a must in this day and age, and there are multiple ways to shield you and your partner from getting ripped off.
“Scammers follow the money and, as such, weddings provide a considerable attraction,” says Terry M. Evans, CEO of Cybersleuth Investigations, Inc., based in New York. “Given that much of the planning and related purchases are typically completed online, opportunities to defraud and to steal identities are greatly increased.”
Couples can help protect themselves and limit their exposure by taking the following smart steps.
Vet your vendors
“While vendors may provide poor or no service, online scams typically involve others posing as vendors. These criminals prey on budget focused couples who are looking for the best deals,” Evans says. “Since many legitimate vendors require down payments prior to delivery of services, weddings are an ideal environment for scammers to thrive.”
Instead, search online for reviews on the vendor, check the Better Business Bureau and ask others in wedding forums for their recommendations.
Keep posts paltry
Remember that scammers use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram too, so limit the details of what you share in your posts or on your wedding website. And if a stranger responds with an offer that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t over share
Evans says scammers use three primary pieces of information when trying to steal a person’s identity: Social Security number, mother’s maiden name and date of birth. Other information such as marriage, work history and information on children and family are often found posted on social media sites and are used to round out the stolen identity profile, he notes.
Social engineering, which involves manipulating others to gain information or other restricted materials without using technical hacking skills, is the most common method for scammers to acquire information.
“Couples who post personal details freely are most susceptible,” Evans warns. “Scammers use this posted information to either call or email targets and manipulate them for information.”
For example, a con might involve a caller claiming to be your catering company. The scammer may know the name because you posted about it on Facebook, and may then inform you that a payment did not process properly. As a result, you could be lured into giving an alternate type of payment over the phone.
Be a loser
Question any notice that involves winning a wedding-related gift or sweepstakes. “Many of these are scams and involve stealing your credit card or banking information,” Evans says. “If you didn’t enter a contest or sweepstakes, you could not have won.”
Seek funding — suspiciously
Need a loan to pull off your wedding? Go to a known source. “The internet is full of sites that offer easy credit that never materializes,” says Evans, and you don’t want to give away personal information to an unknown recipient.
Beware of name-change scams
If you plan on changing your name, you should alert your state’s motor vehicle commission, Social Security Administration or other institution directly; they will never contact you via email.
Don’t use cash
Evans recommends not using cash to pay vendors. A credit card is the best payment method for protecting against financial loss. Should the vendor fail to deliver, the charges can be disputed with the credit card company.