How to Stay Safe While Online Shopping

Why should you be conscious of online shopping?

While you're browsing from the comfort of your own home for that special holiday gift, unfortunately so is a hacker looking for your credit card information. Don't be that easy target! 

The National Retail Federation forecasts that most consumers will turn to online shopping this holiday season, spending an average $967, marking a 3.4 percent increase from last year. But in 2016, nearly 16,000 victims of credit card fraud in the U.S. collectively lost more than $48 million (FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center).

Here's how you can protect your information while shopping for this holiday season.

Shop on Secure Websites

You will want to use a secure website when making a purchase. Using a website with SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to encrypt your data during transmission is ideal. How do you know which websites have an SSL? Look for the padlock in the address bar. Another way you can determine if a website is secure, look for how the URL starts, “https” instead of “http,” as the “s” stands for “secure.”

SSL Secure Website Example

Only Use a Secure Payment Method

Secure Payment

Be careful of sites and apps that only will accept checks, wire transfers, or money orders. If there were fraudulent charges made, you will be held liable. Use sites that allow secure payment methods such as PayPal and credit cards. These ways of payment will give you buyer protection.

Helpful Tip: Sign up for transaction monitoring alerts with your bank. They will immediately notify you when you a transaction has been made. This will allow you to dispute a charge you did not make right away.

Have Protected Passwords

secure accountsWhen you create accounts with different retail companies, be sure to create a strong password. This usually is at least 7 characters, some uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Changing passwords routinely, and don't reuse passwords for other accounts. If a hacker gets into one, then they could get into multiple, especially since data breaches for online retail systems can be common. Since trying to keep track of all your passwords could get overwhelming, you can use a password management app. We recommend using LastPass; they conveniently have an app that you can use on your phone.

Watch Out for Fake Shopping Websites & Apps

online shopping

Have you ever been on Facebook and seen those really cool gadgets or beautiful and inexpensive clothes? Lookout because it could be a scam! As of November 13, the social media security company ZeroFOX had already identified 1,379 fraudulent accounts. Not only could they be selling fake merchandise, but some of the apps could really do some damage. In 2016 there were hundreds of fake retail apps in Apple's App Store and Google Play. These apps & websites can look legitimate, but they could just want your credit card information, and asks you to sign into Facebook to take your personal data. This all could be a ploy to steal your identity and sell your information. Some of them also contain malware to infect your computer and phone.

Did you know, even though 91% of U.S. consumers are aware that such scams exist, about 40% of them have fallen victim to a malicious phishing scam (2017 Cyber Monday Phishing Survey).

If you need help identifying if something is legitimate for this holiday season, email us or give us a call!

Avoid Shopping Online in Public

public shoppingThis one is something most people probably wouldn't think of. When you are using a public Wi-Fi network such as places like airports, lobbies, or coffee shops. This may seem harmless, but you never know when someone is on the other end tracking or logging what you're doing. This is another way they can get your information. If you do need to make a purchase while out and about, it would be safer to use your smartphone as your hotspot.

Bonus Icon

Bonus Tip: Use gift cards. This will allow you to continue to shop online without having to provide your personal financial information. 

Contact us to learn more on how to stay safe while online shopping this holiday season!

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