The holidays are quickly approaching, which means you might be starting some holiday gift shopping. Sales and discounts are happening all season long but usually spike around Thanksgiving week/weekend. Cyber Monday is the largest online shopping day of the year — with 47 percent of all online spending during the Thanksgiving period expected to occur on Cyber Monday. What consumers often forget about is how to stay cyber secure while online shopping. We’ve come up with some tips to remember next time you’re browsing the web for holiday gifts.
Credit card companies take a more serious approach to your account’s cybersecurity. With debit cards, your personal money is being used, while credit cards use the card issuer’s money, therefore, it’s safer to use credit while making online purchases. It can be harder to receive refunds for fraud if you’re using a debit card versus a credit card. There are several security features already in place when you own a credit card. Some include: a three-digit security code used when purchasing items online or over the phone, a signature panel with your personal signature on it, usage monitoring to help report any suspicious purchases, and chip cards to help encrypt your information.
Use private networks
When accessing a Wi-Fi network that is public (and usually free) it’s important to remember that network won’t be as secure as you think. Coffee shops, libraries, campuses, and other public places usually have free Wi-Fi that anyone can connect to. The problem with public Wi-Fi is that they usually don’t have security measures in place which ultimately leaves your data vulnerable and open to be seen by others who are on the same network as you. Connecting to a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your data while online shopping or browsing. Virtual private networks create a private network from a public Internet connection. This type of network can also block other users from seeing your IP address, online credentials, and your browsing habits. Shopping online requires personal financial information, so using a VPN is one of the best ways to hide this information from cybercriminals who might be looking.
Make unique account credentials
Most retail websites ask users to create an account before purchasing any items. While creating a username and password, make sure both are unique and complex. Passwords should be a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters in order to keep your data secure and password protected. Instead of picking a username including only your name, try to add in a number or symbol for added cyber protection. With retail websites, since your financial information is often stored on the website, it’s essential to keep that data protected behind a strong password.
Be aware of scams
Scams can come in all shapes and sizes. One of the most popular shopping scams come in the form of emails. Phishing scams often target email accounts and even text messages. Look out for suspicious sender info that might look fake or unfamiliar. Never click on in-message links as they could contain more spam material. Clicking on these links could infiltrate your device causing even more damage. Phishing emails often address you as “customer” or not by name at all, versus an actual company you are affiliated with would call you by your full name. Real companies also don’t request sensitive information from you via email. Keep all of this in mind when checking your email and even receiving shopping ads in your inbox. Around the holidays, scammers find it easy to lure in customers who might be looking for holiday deals and specials. Always validate discounts by checking the company website (if they are a real company).
Before you start your holiday shopping, take the proper security precautions to make sure your financial information is private and secure - no matter what. Be cautious of what websites you’re visiting and how you’re paying for items. Learn how to be a cyber safe shopper!