Many people were online shopping long before 2020. But due to the ongoing pandemic, it is only logical that many more will be doing their holiday shopping online this year. Already, there has been an increase in cybercrime since the pandemic began, so as you shop online this holiday season, make sure you keep your information safe.
Shop where you trust
Always trust before you purchase. Trust your device is up to date and secure. Only shop on trustworthy sites. And sellers should appear legitimate, and preferably have positive reviews.
How do we know we can trust our device and network? Make sure all anti-virus software on your computer is up to date and secure; and regularly update your phone’s security settings.1 Another thing you can do, is never make a purchase or access sensitive data on an unsecure Wi-Fi network. Though most of us will online shop from home, public Wi-Fi networks may be unsecure and therefore prone to hacking by cybercriminals. Always wait to share or complete anything with sensitive data until you know you are on a secure network. Finally, be wary of unsolicited links. A common way for cybercriminals to gain access to your computer or networks is through consumers unwittingly allowing them access by clicking on links from innocent appearing emails. Always verify the sender is legit and that you gave the company permission to email you. By inspecting emails before opening and clicking on any links, you are protecting your devices and your information.
When you are purchasing anything online, ensure your information is encrypted. An easy way to check that this is occurring, is the URL begins with “https” instead of “http.”1 Trust the seller you are purchasing from by verifying some information. Does the sellers shop or item you are purchasing have any reviews? Are you purchasing the item through a third party that vetted its sellers or has a guarantee? It is important to shop small and local, but to also make sure you trust where you are purchasing before giving away your information. Besides shopping where you trust, also protect your account.
Protect your account
Your personal information is incredibly important, not only to you but also to cybercriminals. One of the best ways to protect your information is to be smart about what information you are giving away. Never share more than is absolutely necessary. If you have security questions, make sure the answer is not also part of the password. Know where and what information you are sharing, and how that information will be used.
Another way to protect your account and information, is by having a strong, secure and unique password. Don’t use the same password on every site, and never use one of the top 10 most popular passwords. Besides just protecting your account, use safe and secure payment methods.
Safe payment methods
How you purchase is just as important as where you purchase. Even if you follow the strictest rules when purchasing online, leaks and damage can still happen. Consider purchasing online with a credit card instead of a debit card.2 Credit cards sometimes have additional safeguards and protections in place that debit cards do not have. These can include purchase limits, daily limits, and other safeguards if something goes awry.
Another way to protect yourself is to watch your bank accounts and statements.2 Verify that there are no surprise purchases that you did not make. Check statement against your receipts to verify that you were charged the correct amount.
Shopping online is now easier than ever. But there are smart and safe ways to go about your purchase. Always trust who and were you are shopping, protect your personal information, and use safe payment methods.
Cybercriminals are constantly getting smarter, but so are consumers. Your online safety is in your own two hands.
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