9 Tips for Safe Cyber Monday Shopping
Learn how to keep yourself safe while doing your online holiday shopping this Cyber Monday. Today we will discuss 9 Tips For Safe Cyber Monday Online Shopping!
The holidays are right around the corner! ‘Tis the season to be jolly – and hacked. All of the bargain hunters out there will know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer the best shopping opportunities. Cyber Monday is great for finding the lowest costs. However, it is also a prime time for identity thieves to get ahold of your valuable information.
Over 147 million Americans shopped during the days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday last year. This number is expected to rise this year, specifically on the online shopping end. Protect yourself and your family this Cyber Monday with these helpful tips on keeping your identity safe and secure online:
9 Tips for Safe Cyber Monday Shopping:
1. Don’t use public Wi-Fi for your Cyber Monday shopping
Cybercriminals dwell in places like coffee shops, restaurants, and public shopping centers. This gives them to best opportunity to gain access to your personal information. When a cybercriminal hacks into a public Wi-Fi signal, they can see any personal information you enter online. This information can include things like your email address, financial data, and even your home address. Hackers can then use the information they gather to plug into your identity and take control. You can prevent this from happening by only doing your Cyber Monday shopping at home, on a trusted device, and on your personal secured Wi-Fi connection. Along with this, you must make sure that the website you are on has HTTPS secure SSL enabled. To check if SSL is enabled and secure, you can look at the URL bar which will have a lock icon followed by “https://”.
2. Avoid Search Engine Phishing
While Cyber Monday shopping, be cafe of what you are searching. Typing the name of the store or product you are looking for into a search engine then selecting a page of the results is dangerous. In fact, a lot can go wrong when you do this. Using this process instead of going straight to the company’s website, can lead you to an unsecure or look-alike website. This new trend is called Search Engine Phishing.
Cybercriminals make these phishing sites hard to distinguish between secure websites and scam websites. One indicator that a site may not be secure is if the site asks for your full banking account information at checkout. For the holiday season, Search Engine Phishing scams can appear in the form of:
- Discounts/Giveaways – retailer look-alikes will offer special products or promotional rates. These sites will allow you to make the purchase, but the products will never receive.
- Low Interest/Interest-Free Credit Cards – be wary of impossibly low rates offered by unknown banking sources.
Be sure to always check that you are on the official company website while shopping this Cyber Monday. Shopping on the official website will ensure that the deals offered are correct, accurate, and real.
3. Don’t Click on Any Ad Pop-ups on Online Shopping Website
We all get occasional pop-ups. These pop-ups are usually offering free shipping or half off your first order while shopping online, especially on Cyber Monday. If they are pop-ups from the site you are shopping on, they are completely harmless. However, if you see them elsewhere, these headlines can be used as clickbait for cybercriminals. Don’t fall for the promise of a deal!
Shady pop-up ads that are not affiliated with the site you are browsing this Cyber Monday are dangerous. These ads will either open another window with an unsecured site or redirect to a 3rd party site to shop. These pop-ups could even allow 3rd party sites to enroll you in programs that you did not sign up for. Shady sites could hold your computer hostage by installing spyware on your device to collect your secure passwords and information
Next time a pop-up appears out of nowhere while you are online shopping, make sure that you close it out. Clicking the “X” in the upper right-hand corner will safely remove it from your screen. Depending on your web browser, you can also stop, block, or limit pop-ups from appearing on your screen.
- For Internet Explorer users, go to your tools tab, then internet options, and then privacy. From here, you can select “Turn on Pop-up blocker.”
- For Google Chrome users, go to the three dots in the upper left-hand corner of your browser. Select settings, advanced, and then “privacy and security.” Under this section, there is an option for content and settings. Click on “pop-ups and redirects.” From here, select “blocked.”
- For Safari users, go to Safari’s security tab in Safari preferences. Then go to the extensions tab to make sure the pop-ups are turned off.
- For Firefox users, go to “menu” and then “preferences.” Select privacy & security, permissions, and then check the box next to block pop-up windows.
4. Don’t Give more Personal Information than You Need To
When shopping online on Cyber Monday, only fill out the required fields. Online shopping websites will NEVER ask for information like your social security number, private passwords, or personal identification answers. If something seems out of the ordinary, cancel the order. From here, you can try a different, more secure website.
5. Create Strong Passwords
Today, everyone has a million different accounts online. When doing your Cyber Monday shopping, you will be prompted to make an account on the website you’re ordering from. This account can be used to track your orders or change them after completion. It’s hard to keep track of all of our login information, so what do we tend to do? Use the same password over and over again.
Relying on the same password is like leaving your front door open and unlocked in the middle of the night – it’s welcoming anyone into your most private space. If cybercriminals get into your accounts, they get access other personal information that may be stored on your account profile. This information can include things such as your shipping/billing address, payment information or even the answers to your security questions.
In order to combat this, you can……
- Use a combination of lowercase, uppercase, numbers, figures, and symbols.
- Use dynamic information. Do not use names, numbers, or combinations that can be easily guessed by a hacker like the name of your pet, your hometown, or your birthday.
- Use a long string of words – this makes your password less readable to computer programs that test different common passwords and password combinations.
- Use a password manager platform, like 1Password and LastPass. These programs are a convenient way to manage and keep track of a large about of unique passwords.
6. Shop with Brands you Know and Trust
When doing your Cyber Monday holiday shopping, make sure it is with brands you know and trust. If you have visited the store in person or shopped online with the brand before, you know that they are trustworthy and actually have inventory to sell. On big shopping days, like Cyber Monday, new websites may pop up that are selling products at lower prices than usual.
If you are doing your shopping on a new site for the first time, here are some warning signs to look out for:
- Prices, benefits or features that are too good to be true. You should be careful of this even on major shopping days like Cyber Monday. This could mean that the product doesn’t actually exist or that there is a catch to the purchase.
- The website insists on an unusual payment method like wire transfer. A reputable brand or online retail store will accept all of the usual methods of payment and not ask for anything out of the ordinary or super personal at checkout.
- A store that is new and has limited information posted on their website. This could mean that they do not have a reliable delivery method, solid store policies, or any return policies.
- The online store has no contact information or customer support team. This could lead to you receiving the incorrect product or never receiving your order at all. With no way to contact the store after putting in your order, you are more susceptible to getting scammed.
7. Don’t use a Debit Card or Personal Banking information when doing your Online Shopping
Debit card information is one of the easiest things for a cybercriminal to obtain. Protect your banking account and personal information by using a credit card instead when online shopping this Cyber Monday. If someone does get a hold of your credit card information, you receive more liability protection with a credit card company than you do when using your debit card. There is also the option to sign up for a payment alternative, like PayPal, to use for your Cyber Monday shopping.
Using a service like PayPal ensures that your purchases are safe and secure because these providers do not sure sensitive information with the online shopping website. This process keeps you and your finances safe and secure.
For holiday shopping in stores on Cyber Monday, keep an eye out for card skimmers. Card Skimmers are devices that hackers insert onto card readers. These devices steal your debit/credit card information when you make purchases. Skimmers are inserted on card readers in retail stores or ATM machines.
These devices are often hard to spot, but you can keep an eye out for card readers that stick out past the panel, card readers that jiggle or are looser than usual, and pin pads that are thicker than usual to indicate if there is a card skimmer in use.
8. Check your Online Banking Activity and Bank Statements
After making online purchases on Cyber Monday, check your bank statements to ensure that you were charged the correct amount by the correct vendor. If you are doing a lot of online shopping this holiday season, check your statements daily or at least once a week. It would be smart to enable account alerts – via text or email – about any charges or changes that take place on your account. If you find an incorrect or unauthorized change on your account…
- Contact your bank. They can provide more information about the purchase and the steps you can take moving forward.
- Dispute the charge. You can either do this with an online form or by going into your bank’s branch.
- File a fraud or police report. This shows your bank that you did not make the purchases and helps to clear your account of any incorrect charges.
9. Get a Free Dark Web Scan
Theft prevention companies are passionate about keeping you and your identity safe. They will even scan for your identity on the dark web for free! The Dark Web is any website that is not indexed by search engines. When cybercriminals steal big amounts of personal data, they may post it for sale on the Dark Web. If your information is stolen and placed on the Dark Web, hackers can use it without you knowing. Taking advantage of a free Dark Web scan can prevent hackers and identity thefts from taking over your identity.
Dark Web scans will make sure that your personal information is safe and secure, and, once complete, will alert you to any potential threats or matches to your personal information on the Dark Web. Companies that offer Dark Web scans scan through hundreds of databases to make sure you are 100% covered and safe. Again, these services are completely FREE, so take advantage!
Have any questions? Please call us at 855-200-6788.