Safe Online Shopping Practices – Don’t be the next Victim
The December holidays are upon us and everyone is busy shopping for gifts and holiday specials. With a surge in the COVID-19 cases, online shopping is the primary source of purchasing right now. As a result, there is a drastic increase in cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Email scams, texting scams, identity theft, package theft and other techniques to steal your money, gifts and identity are on the rise. As we rush through our online holiday shopping and try to get the best deals, we tend to lower our guard and become even more vulnerable. The bad actors are counting on us to be exactly this way and not paying attention or double–check or verify the retailer. It is now more important than ever for us to be diligent, aware, and cognizant of these risks. Here are some key tips that you want to put into practice to help protect yourself and your family from being the next victim:
1. Shop with reputable retailers
- It’s best to shop directly from online retailers that you know and trust.
- Bookmark your favorite shopping websites to avoid visiting a fraudulent site through an accidental typo or a phishing email.
2. Beware of amazing deals
- Did you spot an ad offering rock-bottom prices or free stuff? Don’t just fall for it, double–check. If an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Compare prices before you buy.
3. Use secure networks
- Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fis are not secure and shopping online often requires giving out personal information like your credit card information or address that a bad actor would love to steal.
4. Use strong passwords
- A strong password is like a secure lock that keeps cyberthieves out of the accounts where you store your personal information.
i) Use a complex set of lower and upper case numbers, letters, and symbols.
ii) Avoid dictionary words and personal like your kid’s name or birthdate.
ii) Never reuse passwords across sites.
5. Use secure websites
- Look for a lock icon in the browser bar of a site to verify that they use SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption. The URL also should start with “https” rather than just “http”. Shopping only on secure sites reduces the risk that your confidential information will be compromised.
6. Pay with credit cards, not debit cards
- Always use a credit card to shop as securely as possible. A credit card doesn’t give a seller direct access to the money and most credit cards offer $0 liability for fraud.
- Do not store your credit card for easy access for next time.
7. Use a virtual credit card
- Some credit card issuers will give you a temporary card number that’s linked to your credit card account. You can use the temporary number to shop online without showing the seller your real credit card details.
8. Track your orders
- Make sure you receive a tracking number to monitor the progress of your shipment.
- Contact your credit card issuer if you are unable to get a status update from the merchant.
9. Secure deliveries
- Consider delivering Amazon orders to a lock box.
- Make sure the destination is secured or can receive your packages when they arrive.
- Consider requiring a signature for all your deliveries.
10. Protect personal information
- No online store will ask for your Social Security number.
- Provide reputable sellers with the minimum personal info necessary to complete the transaction.
Please shop cautiously, be smart and have a wonderful holiday season!