5 Rules for Safe Online Shopping This Holiday Season
The holidays are when we love to give each other gifts. Whether you’re looking at a new tablet for a family member or a great bottle of wine as a hostess gift for a party, chances are you’re going to be shopping this holiday season. And projections this year estimate this will be the first ever trillion dollar season!
Cyber Monday, the online version of Black Friday, is becoming more popular. With a push back against Thanksgiving Day sales and consumers becoming more leery of crowded retail stores, the allure of staying home in your pajamas and browsing from your laptop is greater than ever. Online shopping is a great way to nab great deals while still having time to decorate a gingerbread house with the family.
However, this increase in internet commerce has attracted the eye of cyber criminals as well. Scams are highest this time of year. But you can stay safe following a few online safety tips.
What’s in your antivirus?
First, make sure your antivirus program uses application whitelisting as the basis of its protection. Application whitelisting utilizes a default-deny approach, meaning any unknown program will be blocked from executing on your machine. Even new or unseen malware and ransomware will be denied access to your device. This approach is recommended by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the NSA, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security to mention a few.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Next, make sure to double check links and email attachments before opening them. Spam is at its peak during the holiday season as consumers are flooded with exclusive discounts and shipping rates. Cyber criminals will also pose as support from popular retailers saying your order may be cancelled if you don’t click this link. It’s always smart to go to the retailer website. If you don’t see the deal or support issue there, don’t chance it.
Don’t get caught at work!
Third, refrain from shopping or checking email while at work. Even shopping from your phone while connected to your employers WiFi, you can be putting your network at risk to hacking and cybercrime. If you think of something you may need, jot it down and wait until you’re away from the network to purchase. This also applies to entering personal information into your device when using public WiFi. Anyone can be lurking on an open public network waiting to see what information you’re entering into your device.
Use a pay service or credit card for online purchases. Pay services like ApplePay, PayPal, and services offered by MasterCard and Visa keep your financial information private from the retailer and any criminal that may be watching. They also come with guarantees if you do see fraudulent charges. Many credit cards offer complete protection without the hassle of having your personal finances compromised while they’re investigating the charge.
Keep an eye out.
Finally, you’ll want to stay vigilant and check your mobile banking, credit card and bank statements to make sure you recognize all charges. If something looks strange, make sure to contact the financial institution immediately to find out where the charge came from. Setting up spending alerts will let you know immediately when a purchase is made so you can stay vigilant.
The holidays are a time to spend with those we hold most dear. Make sure your precious time is spent making memories. By taking a few extra precautions this gift giving season, you can minimize the chances of becoming a victim of cyber crime.
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