If you’re in the middle of online holiday shopping, you should be prepared to be vigilant about your online safety. Learn to protect yourself against online scammers and hackers to keep your finances safe and away from cyber criminals. Follow these cybersecurity tips for online holiday shopping.
Stay Vigilant While Online Holiday Shopping
According to a Sparklight® press release, online sales are expected to reach $236 billion this holiday season. That is more than a 15.5% increase over the last year. Therefore, cybercriminals get more opportunities to prey on consumers. Luckily, there are cybersecurity practices you can set in action so you can confidently and safely shop online for the holidays.
Before You Click…
A text message is harmless, right? Wrong! Think again. Text messages are only one of the ways scammers reach consumers to play out their criminal activities. Text message scams are called “smishing.” In addition, email scams are known as “phishing.” Cybercriminals can also target online holiday shoppers via voicemail, recognized as “vishing.” These are the three most common methods scammers use to collect your confidential account information.
Common Signs of Phishing or Smishing
- Requests to click on a link
- Requests for personal information
- A Suspicious email address from the sender
- Misspellings and grammatical errors in the email or text message
Four Steps to Increase Online Security
- You can use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for online accounts. This security system uses multiple authentication factors to access an account. It can be as simple as setting a code to access SMS text messaging or through popular MFA apps like Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator.
- Update your computer software. Having up-to-date software includes security updates, thus making it more difficult for hackers to get a hold of your data.
- Remain on guard for unexpected or unusual emails. Most successful cyberattacks begin with a phishing email.
- Use a strong password. You can create your password or use a password manager to generate and store your unique passwords for multiple accounts.
Tip: A strong password has between 16 to 24 random characters and includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols or four unrelated words strung together.
Is The Website Secure?
There are other indicators that prove a website is secure to browse. The best way to tell is by looking at the website URL. If the URL starts with the letters https://, then you have got yourself a secure website. The ‘s’ stands for secure, meaning the website is using encryption to help keep information protected. Be cautious of unsecured websites. An unsecured URL will begin with HTTP. Never share your personal information, like credit card numbers, on an unsecured website or on public wireless networks.
Shopping On A Mobile App
Mobile seems to be the way to go a lot these days. We all walk around with minicomputers (cell phones) in our pockets and purses, and it’s no surprise you may have done some shopping on mobile. However, when shopping via mobile apps, make sure you’re checking out the app descriptions before you download.
Cybercriminals have become very sophisticated in creating fake store apps that mimic real business and their logos. Downloading apps directly from a company’s official website helps verify authenticity. In return, you avoid the headache of getting credit card fraudulent activity, or worst, debit card fraud.
Access to a debit card gives hackers immediate access to draining the shoppers’ bank accounts of all funds. Consequently, you should avoid using debit cards for online purchases and instead use a credit card which typically holds better theft protection features. Do not forget to keep your receipts, shipping, and tracking information, and regularly monitor credit card activity to ensure no fraudulent charges. Press Release
Related Article: How To Manage Holiday Spending Debt
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