Woman using credit card.

Hook, Line & Sinker


It’s that time of year again. The trend for many years has been a shift to online shopping. The younger generation has spearheaded this movement. They are also greatly influenced by celebrities they follow on social media. Although this generation grew up using technology, they trust what they see online too much, as shown in the following scenario.

Scenario: It’s Too Good To Be True

Mary (18) was scrolling through the newsfeed on her favorite social media app. She noticed a glam shot of her favorite influencer wearing cute new sneakers. There was a  giveaway link in the comments section. “Buy now and save 50%!”

The Hook…

Mary immediately clicked the short link, which took her to an outside website. A flashing logo screamed, “Order now and save!” Mary clicked the link and landed on the sales cart.


The cart asked if she was paying using a credit or debit card. Mary did not have a credit card and used her bank’s debit card for all purchases. So, she selected “Debit Card” and clicked the Next button.

Mary filled in the card’s information. She thought it odd that the form asked for her card’s PIN, but she did it anyway. She clicked the Pay Now button and received a message thanking her for the sale.

And Sinker…

A few days later, Mary went to the ATM. She entered her debit card and hit the $300 Withdrawal button. The machine responded, “You have $0.00 in your account.” Mary was scammed.

Did You Spot The Red Flags?

  • Mary was mesmerized by an offer that seemed too good to be true.
  • She clicked on a short link in the social media post without checking where that link was taking her. In this case, she landed on a scam website.
  • Although she thought it strange, Mary entered her card’s PIN.  She gave the scammers everything they needed to know to clean out her account.
  • Mary uses a debit card for purchases rather than a credit card. Credit cards offer more protection against fraud. However, using a debit card is dangerous, as we saw in Mary’s case, as scammers used it to clean out her bank account.


Follow your intuition. If an online encounter doesn’t feel right, go with your gut and research companies you use for the first time before entering information. NEVER use a debit card for purchases. Debit cards have little or no protection against fraud—use a credit card instead.

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