As you might be endlessly waiting for the breathtaking online deals during these holidays, cyber criminals are definitely as excited as you – or even more – and have their digitally well-equipped conned trap ready to take fist full of money from your pocket. Good news is that it depends mostly on you and how you protect yourself to prevent these major threats from spoiling your shopping spree.
The holiday shopping season is a busy time of the year for all and you must be wary of all the threats that you may encounter. For instance, spam campaigns theoretically from famed big brands. Fake emails pretend to be notifications from the online retailer that a purchase has been sent out for delivery.
So… we see it every year: cyber extorters that take advantage of the online shopping activities around Singles’ Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November. The warning remains for December, definitely another momentum for cyber criminals who target enthusiasts of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holidays.
1. Only Purchase from Reliable Retailers – Think twice before purchasing from an unfamiliar online store. Even if this means that you might be passing up on the best prices, it’s worth it to buy from a reputable website that you know and trust. The risk of purchasing from a questionable website not only makes your credentials vulnerable, but it might also have hidden fees, be a falsely advertised product of lesser quality, or could be entirely fraudulent. In order to be sure that you receive exactly what you think you’re getting at the price you want, it’s important that the online store that you’re buying from has a good reputation. You can confirm this based on customer review sites and their social media channels.
2. Don’t Get Phished In by Clicking on Suspicious Emails – Your inbox might be inundated with several emails offering you amazing deals, but remember to watch out for phishing attempts. Even if the email appears to be legitimate and coming from a trusted company, it could be hackers who create and design these emails and corresponding webpages to look legitimate. Phishing attempts are designed for the purpose of collecting your personal information, so be sure to stay hyperaware and get protected against phishing.
3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi when Shopping Online – When you enter private information such as credit card numbers while using public Wi-Fi, everyone else also accessing the network can access your information too. This is why it’s imperative to always use a secure network while shopping online. If you need to use a public network, using a VPN could be a great safeguard. If not, wait until you get home to use your private network before inputting personal details on the web.
4. Keep an Eye Out for Safety Symbols – Take a careful look at the URL of the website you are shopping on and see if it begins with HTTPS. The s stands for secure connection, because the network is encrypting your information, allowing only you and the merchant to view your payment data. Also, keep an eye out for a padlock icon in the top left hand corner of the URL address bar or the words SSL – Secure Sockets Layer. The lack of any of these signs should indicate to you that this site is not secure and that you shouldn’t input personal details on that site.
5. Purchase with Credit Cards, Not Debit Cards – Since debit cards have direct access to your bank account, you should really avoid using it online. If hackers gain access to this information, they have access to all of your funds. Credit card companies are legally obligated to protect their customers from online fraud. Therefore, utilizing credits cards online is like having a great insurance policy because if you notice any suspicious activity, they are on the hook for those fraudulent charges. Credit card companies also monitor your accounts. They use sophisticated software that detect unusual customer behavior and could block your card until they can successfully confirm that you personally were trying to make those charges. Debit cards are not equipped with these same security and protection measures, so it’s best to avoid using them while purchasing online.
6. Keep Track of your Purchases – Be sure to keep your receipts after you make your purchases, especially after doing online shopping. Monitor your credit and banking statements regularly, comparing your charges to the ones that you have receipts for. If you notice a purchase that you didn’t make, contact your credit card company and they will be able to resolve it.
7. Protect and Prevent – The safety of your online transactions are directly related to the safety of your own computer. You need to make sure that your computer is safe from malware, viruses and that it has anti-phishing protection in order for you to be completely safe while shopping online.
Your computer needs to be equipped with the latest antivirus and firewall protection in order to be safe against all online threats and identity fraud. Trusted by nearly 100 million users worldwide, ZoneAlarm is the best business-class protection for your home PC.
If you put all this into consideration, chances are you will have a great shopping season! Shop Safe!