With Cyber Monday just around the corner, it is important for consumers to be mindful of their online activity and avoid falling into the clever traps of cyber-criminals. For the most part, online shopping is safe if you stick to the well-known sites like Amazon, eBay, and other reputable online retailers. It’s when you start looking for those hard-to-find items from little known sellers that you need to start taking extra precautions and be vigilant.
There are several things you can do to make your online holiday shopping more secure and these are some of the most important:
1.) Keep your devices and computers updated
The first step to making sure that you are secure is to make sure that both your mobile (Phones, Tablets, etc) and computer are up-to-date with the latest patches to the operating systems and security software.
2.) Be cautious of too-good-to-be-true deals and emails about problems with orders
The problem with things that are “too good to be true” is that they usually are. This is particularly true during the holiday season while cyber-criminals are targeting shoppers with enticing deals. Be smart if you receive an email with a deal that’s unbelievably good or an email about a problem with your order that asks you to click a link. Go directly to the online retailer’s website in the browser instead of clicking on the link.
3.) Browse secure
Look for https and the lock next to the URL to make sure the transaction is secure and the online retailer is protecting your data during transmission.
Also, avoid purchasing from online retailers that you don’t know. There are many small reputable online retailers but there are also a lot of cyber-criminals setting up legitimate looking websites trying to steal information. If you want to purchase something from an unfamiliar retailer, take a few extra minutes to research them for reviews and see if they have an eBay or Amazon storefront as the policies of those sites will cover your purchases.
4.) Use safe payment options when possible
Never send cash or use a money-wiring service. Many credit card companies offer a temporary card option that will allow you to specify a limit for the transaction as well as provide you a temporary card number and expiration date for the transaction. Avoid using a debit card as much as possible.
5.) Protect your personal information
Don’t share personal information or banking information over unsecured (no password required) Wi-Fi networks.