Tips for making your online holiday shopping worry free
With the holiday season on the horizon, there is so much shopping that needs to be done. Fifty-six percent of shoppers say they plan to do their holiday shopping online this year. With this in mind, consumers need to be aware of the dangers that come with shopping via the Internet. Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for vulnerable, unsecure networks and shoppers who are willing to unknowingly give away their private information. To be sure you aren’t caught in an identity theft situation this holiday season, here are a few tips to make sure you’re being safe while online shopping.
Charge all purchases to your credit card
When shopping in general, but especially online, make sure to avoid using your debit card to make purchases. Instead, stick to using your credit card or other payment services. Since debit cards are specifically linked back to your bank account, it’s best to avoid using them while shopping online. Credit cards offer another layer of protection since they are not linked to a bank account with all of your finances and information ready for the taking. Many credit card companies are equipped with their own security protocol.
Depending on the service, many credit card companies offer less liability when it comes to fraudulent purchases made on your card. However, to make sure you’re doing your due diligence remember to keep your pin number private, destroy or delete any bank statements, and keep a running list of all the purchases you’ve made. That way if anything looks suspicious you can notify your credit card company as soon as possible. The sooner you notify the bank, the sooner you will be able to resolve the situation. Some companies hold you responsible if you don’t notify them soon enough, so check your statements on a regular basis.
Stay away from scams
Cybercriminals try to find easy ways to scam shoppers, especially during the holiday shopping season. Knowing how to spot a phishing scam is the first step in keeping your information safe from cybercriminals.
A phishing email will tend to offer a fake deal that is hard for consumers to resist. They use tactics to encourage shoppers to make an impulsive decision and click on a link that says “Buy now” or “Exclusive Sale” that entice the consumer to click the link. Once the link is clicked, malware software could be downloaded to your device.
These emails have only one objective and it’s to get you to click a link. Some emails even hide their malware in the “Unsubscribe” link. Once they send you a number of unsolicited emails, they hope you’ll unsubscribe and unknowingly download their harmful viruses.
The best solution is to mark the email as spam. This allows you to block the sender from sending you any more emails and remove the current emails from your inbox. If you are interested in the deal, try to do some research to see if the deal is valid or not. If you find the deal elsewhere click on the link that’s associated with a secure website and never go back to click on the link embedded in the email.
Use the proper software
We’ve heard it time and time again that it’s best to keep your software up to date at all times. Sometimes it’s easy to put software updates on the back burner until we find a time for us to comfortably be without the device while it’s updating. However, most of us are known to wait too long to update to the newest software. Updates are meant to upgrade your software and not only make it run better, but also more secure. Many companies who offer software updates do so in order to update the security of their system. There could be a new cyberbug that they identified and with updating your device’s software you are ensuring that you have the most up-to-date protection.
There are other software that you can choose to download yourself. Antivirus software is a cybersecurity software you should download to your devices to make sure that you’re safe at all times, but especially while shopping online. Antivirus will protect your devices from cybercriminals if you are visiting an unsafe website. That way if you accidentally visit a non-secure website, this software will prevent any malware from downloading to your device.
Beware of unsafe websites and shopping applications
The main perk of online shopping is that one can conveniently purchase items from a website or application online. But are all of those websites and apps actually secure and browsing safe? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Only download shopping apps or visit websites that are from a reliable source. Buying retail apps from stores like the Apple App store or the Samsung Galaxy Store is a good rule of thumb to make sure that they are the official applications for certain stores. Reading the app’s private policy and doing some research behind the app is also a great idea before using it. In doing so, you can learn who made the app, if it’s affiliated with the correct company, and if this app will collect your information. Do your research first to make sure the app is legitimate and will keep all of your information private.
Websites on the other hand, are easier to identify if they are secure or not. When looking at the beginning of the URL, one can tell if a site is secure if the site begins with “https://.” If a site’s URL starts with “http://” than it is not secure. The “s,” which stands for secure, lets the user know if the site is protected or not.
Dangers of shopping online may not be as obvious at some other dangers online, but if you know what to look for, you can be sure that your information will be protected. The holiday season is prime time for cybercriminals to target online shoppers who might not be savvy in the cybersecurity department. But if you make sure to follow a few online safety best practices, you can stay cyber safe this holiday season.