The holidays are in full swing—and for many of us, that means shopping! The reliance on online holiday shopping continues to grow, making it a very lucrative time for cyber criminals to “shop” for your personal and financial information. Be particularly vigilant this time of year, being careful for phishing and SMiShing scams, fake shopping web sites and charity scams.
To help you be security smart over the coming weeks, here are some online shopping tips:
- Do your online shopping at home and make sure your wireless network is protected.
- Make sure your connection is secure.
- When making a purchase, always confirm the address bar of your browser starts with https:// (not http://). The s stands for secure and indicates the data being transmitted is encrypted.
- Beware that the small lock icon on your browser does not necessarily mean the site is secure. Cyber criminals are increasingly adding it to scam websites in their efforts to deceive people.
- Shop at websites you trust. Don’t click on links in emails, and never log in to a site via an email link. Instead, open a browser and hand type the Web address.
- Before placing an order with an unfamiliar website, search for online reviews using the words scam or fraud in an effort to determine its authenticity.
- Ensure your devices are updated with the current software version.
- Be aware of fake apps that may imitate apps made by legitimate retailers. You should only load apps from the official stores for Android (Play Store) and IOS (App Store).
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card, and review statements. Most credit cards have built-in fraud protection – just notify them quickly if you suspect something.
- Be cautious of phishing and SMiShing scams with fake shipping notifications and tracking alerts.
- Instead of clicking on the included link, go to the online retailer and follow the tracking link, or search the tracking number provided to determine if it is legitimate.
- And don’t forget to keep gifts a secret by clearing your browser history!
Taking precautionary steps like these will certainly help avoid any unfortunate situations this shopping season. We hope you have a happy and safe holiday!