How to protect your personal information from online chat feature scams

Experts say an online shopping scam is making a huge comeback.

The scam involves the chat feature on some retail websites — and it can steal your personal information in a variety of ways.

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“What’s old is new again. It started actually in 2009, but with the advent of new technology it’s caught steam,” said Natalie Dunlevey, president of National Processing Solutions in Dayton.

Dunlevey said that the chat feature on unsecured retail websites is increasingly being targeted by scammers.

“Somebody could download a piece of malware onto it and they could be so sophisticated that they can even see your keystrokes as you are typing in your credit card information and your personal information,” she said.

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You may also unwittingly be chatting directly with a scammer.

Dunlevey said that these live chat scams were up 113 percent in 2017 over 2016.

To stay safe, Dunlevey said to make sure that the website has https in the URL.

You should also never reveal personal information in a chat and only buy through a website’s shopping cart feature.

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Some online shoppers are already wary of online retail chat sites.

“It would be nice if you could get someone to help you right away and all that, but I just don’t trust any,” said Lourdes Narvaez of Oakwood.

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"I don't like it because I don't want you seeing my personal information, and if you are really that smart I wish you would use that for something else," said Gavin Fafiade of Dayton.
Experts say many temporary Halloween and holiday shopping websites do not pay for extra security, which makes them vulnerable to these chat scams.

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