Although the deals are tempting, the abundance of special holiday listings makes it easy for cybercriminals and scammers to exploit the savviest of deal seekers. Finding ways to protect your online identity is important. When shopping for gifts for your friends and family online, keep these tips in mind for a safer shopping experience this season.
To keep your devices and information protected:
Avoid public Wifi networks, unsecured sites, outlandish offers, and suspicious email offers
Create a new email address for online purchases and store accounts
Utilize two-factor-authentication on accounts and devices when possible
Defend devices and stored data by updating firmware and utilizing antivirus software
Check for inaccuracies on your bank statements and credit card bills
What To Avoid
Public or other unlocked Wifi Networks
If actively monitored by a cybercriminal, the information you exchange through an unsecured network could be intercepted and exploited.
It’s recommended that you wait until you’re connected to a private and secure network before making purchases.
Suspicious looking emails and phishing attacks
Phishing is a common email strategy used during the holiday season. It’s designed to lure vulnerable online shoppers into willingly handing over their private information. These tactics are successful because the emails seem like an authentic warning or opportunity at first glance.
If you’re suspicious, trust your gut and handle the email with care. Don’t open unknown attachments, links, or share login information that could be “required to resolve an issue”.
Fake websites and unbelievable deals
We’ve all seen websites and deals that are obviously fake. They tend to pop up around the holiday season, so Google advises checking the authenticity of the site, cart, and checkout pages to confirm the URL say HTTPS. Marking domains labeled HTTP as unsecured sites make it easier to identify sources that should be avoided.
Tools To Utilize
New email address
Create a new email using a secure password, use it only for online purchases and store accounts to easily track orders and shipping related emails.
Advanced security tools
When it comes to security tools, you have plenty of options; from free to paid subscriptions, widgets, or apps. Many online accounts and devices can be protected by two-factor-authentication, however, if that’s not an option, a unique and highly secure password is recommended.
For an added layer of security while making online purchases this season, consider utilizing a Virtual Private Network to encrypt and hide your online transactions.
Software updates and patches
Enabling automatic updates is an easy way to keep your devices operating smoothly and data secure. All Internet-connected devices, apps, and security software utilize regular updates to identify and fix critical issues. However, it’s still recommended that you install antivirus software on your devices to identify and remove contaminated files or downloads the update may not have addressed.
After Shopping Online
Review Your Bank and Billing Statements
Look for unauthorized purchases, mistakes, or suspicious spending activity after making an online purchase. If you notice something isn’t right, notify your bank and creditors, as it could be a sign you’re a victim of fraud.
Monitor Your Online Accounts for Unauthorized Activity
Identifying an issue early on is the best way to resolve it in a timely manner and avoid further complications. Avoid storing personal information on these online accounts, and after making the purchase, be sure to remove your saved credit card information, unsubscribe from the service, and log out from the account. Regularly check your new email address for any notifications, and if you see issues, contact the online retailer.