‘Tis the season for holiday shopping! The holidays are just around the corner and many consumers will be buying gifts online for family and friends. Unfortunately, this time of the year is also when many fall victim of identity theft or fraud. With cyber-attacks at an all-time high during holiday season, it is imperative for consumers to learn practical online shopping safety tips to protect against potential cybercrime.
Here are 7 safety tips to protect against cyber threats this holiday season:
- Change Your Passwords
Regardless if you use a mobile device, tablet, or computer, you should update your password(s) every 30-90 days. Updating your password(s) will decrease the chance of fraudsters hacking and accessing your personal information and using it for harmful purposes.
- Install Software Updates
The default security settings for tablets, smartphones, and computers are not always secure and fraudsters could still potentially get access to personal information. That’s why it’s important to double check your device(s) and make sure you have the latest software updates installed. In addition, your browser settings need to be set to the highest level regarding security.
- Check The Website URL
When shopping online, check the website URL you are visiting and how it appears. Trusted and reputable websites will have a padlock symbol that’s located in the browser address, meaning that website is encrypted and secure. Never buy items on a website that displays as http://. These websites do not have the highest level of security and are much easier to experience a breach. Instead, only purchase items from websites that begin with https://, as these sites are secure and will keep your confidential payment data safe from hackers.
- Only Use Private Wi-Fi
Many businesses now allow consumers to connect to a free Wi-Fi hotspot. However, these public networks typically do not require a passcode, leaving consumers vulnerable to attacks and giving hackers easier access to steal confidential payment data such as online banking information or credit card information. As a result, it’s crucial to always connect to a secured Wi-Fi network that requires a passcode.
- Watch Out For Scams
The holidays are a prime time for fraudsters to send out e-mails that contain subject lines with special promotions or deals in hopes of catching the eye of consumers. Use extreme caution when opening your e-mails and make sure the e-mail is legitimate before clicking on links or opening attachments. If the sender of the e-mail has a suspicious e-mail address, there are several spelling/grammar mistakes, or the prices sound too good to be real, it’s probably a malicious e-mail.
- Use An Anti-Virus Software
If you are using a computer to do your online shopping, be sure to install and use a firewall and anti-virus software. Both of these solutions will help prevent viruses or other potential threats that have the potential to steal confidential data from your computer.
- Watch Your Bank Account
Periodically check your bank account to ensure your account balance is accurate and that no suspicious purchases have been made that you aren’t aware of. If using a credit card for purchases, then check your credit card statements online as well. Alert your bank or credit card company if you notice anything abnormal as soon as possible.
With more consumers now doing their holiday shopping online, it is imperative to follow and learn the best safety methods to prevent fraud from happening. Following the above tips will help keep you and your personal information safe and secure from unwanted hackers and threats this holiday season.