Holiday Online Shopping Safety Tips – Protect Yourself While Online Shopping – Cyber Security Tips to Protect Your Money While Holiday Shopping 2019
Holiday online safety is a major concern during the biggest shopping period of the year warns the FTC. Hackers and scammers increase their efforts from Black Friday until New Year’s Day, because it pays off for them each year. Consumers who are in a hurry and looking to get the good deals are more willing to spend money. They may be less careful with where they shop and who they give their payment information to while in the rush to get holiday online shopping over with as quickly as possible.
According to the National Retail Federation, fitft-fice percent of consumers stated that holiday online shopping is their favorite method for purchasing gifts this year. Holiday sales are expected to increase about four percent over last year with the average consumer spending $1,007.24 this year on presents. Black Friday shopping in stores is slowly giving away to holiday online shopping and it is convenient for shoppers. Consumers don’t have to battle crowds and many stores offer free shipping. But it is convenient season for hackers too.
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Holiday online shopping comes with risks. Hackers have successfully spread Magecart malware to major online stores. The most recent retailer to announce a Magecart attack is Macy’s. Magecart skimmer was discovered on Macys.com collecting customers’ payment card details.
Malware or not,many online shopping websites are not set up properly to protect holiday data and payment information. Consumers who shop carefully can help protect themselves online while holiday shopping. Although nothing is completely safe, there are a lot of steps a shopper can take to help protect their money and guard against credit card fraud, holiday online scams, and identity theft.
What Are the Dangers of Online Shopping?
The risks of holiday online shopping include on-line scams , stolen credit cards, Identity theft, computer viruses, or malware on your smartphone . even iPhones are not safe from malware
Do Your Holiday Shopping on Secure Websites
Share payment information only with known or reputable online stores. You should only do your holiday online shopping on secure websites. Look for the lock icon in the upper right corner of the screen or HTTPS in the website URL. If you don’t know how to tell if a website is secure, read our guide. Reputable websites use secure certificates (sometimes called SSL or HTTPS) to encrypt your account information and payment information.
Look for any security warnings in your website browser. Both Chrome and Firefox web browsers have added security features to help you protect yourself while holiday online shopping. Make sure the user account and checkout section of the website is encrypted.
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Is It Safe to Buy Online with A Credit Card?
Pay by credit card, which is the most secure payment method. Under federal law, fraudulent charges can be disputed and consumer liability for theft is limited so long as consumers promptly notify the bank or credit card issuer. Additionally, many credit card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the purchaser pays nothing if his or her credit card is stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases.
Don’t Use a Debit Card to Shop Online
Use credit cards not debit cards for holiday online shopping. Credit cards add a layer of protection for your money. If you use debit card and a hacker gets your PIN, then they’ll be able to use your debit card to shop online. A skilled hacker may even reproduce a physical card with your numbers on it. Debit cards do not have the same protection that credit cards do. So, if your money is stolen, there’s no guarantee your bank will refund it.
PayPal is generally safe for holiday online shopping, but nothing is completely risk-free.
Don’t Holiday Shop Online on A Public WiFi Network
Don’t holiday shop online using public or shared WiFi networks like those found in retail stores, coffee shops, hotels, airports, or even at work. Shoppers like to compare prices and research products while they are in retail stores to get the best deal. Browsing prices on your phone on public WiFi is safe, but don’t make a purchase or log into to any accounts including social media.
Hackers can intercept your personal information and payment information when you use shared WiFi connections. If you must login or make a purchase from your phone while using public WiFi, then use a virtual private network, or VPN, to protect your money. There are many reputable VPN services, both free and paid, that encrypt your login credentials and credit cards so hackers cannot steal them.
Use Strong Passwords
Use strong passwords to secure all online accounts. Words that are easy to guess like names and common nouns are not strong enough to stop hackers. Publicly visible social media accounts contain the answers to common reset questions like hometown and pets’ names. Change passwords often.
People tend to use the same password over and over again across multiple accounts. Use a password vault so you can use complex passwords and not have to worry about remembering them.
Update Software on Your Computer and Mobile Device
Updating the apps on your phone, laptop, and all devices is the best thing you can do to protect yourself from hackers, malware, ransomware, and computer viruses. The largest and most damaging malware attacks prey upon users who do not keep their hardware and software up-to-date. The WannaCry malware attack which infected over 100,000 computers in 2019 took advantage of unpatched windows machines. Even iPhones can become infected with rat malware.
Use A Good Anti-Malware Program
Get a reputable antivirus program to protect all of your devices. Antivirus apps must also be maintained with up-to-date libraries and the most effective apps are usually paid subscriptions. When a new malware attack hits, malware software must also be updated so they have the newest libraries and antivirus capabilities. It’s important to use a well-known and reputable antivirus app like McAffee that works on all of your devices, because hackers sometimes masquerade malicious computer viruses as malware solutions.
Set Up Credit Card Alerts
Set up credit card alerts so you know when there’s been activity including payments and purchases on your accounts. Most major credit cards let you set up email and SMS text message alerts, so you’ll know within seconds if someone made a purchase with your credit card information. I use SMS text messages on all my credit cards. You can also set alerts up, so you never miss a payment. Account balance information sends updates on Credit card which may help keep you in check while holiday online shopping.
Check Your Account Statements Often
To protect yourself while shopping online, you should only be using reputable websites with encryption, using credit cards to pay, and monitoring activity in real-time with SMS text alerts. To protect your money, you must check your credit card and bank statements often. Credit cards offer consumer protections. Shoppers can get their money refunded from fraudulent charges. Although your credit card has some algorithms working to help protect your money, fraud still happens and it’s up to you to report credit card theft and fraudulent charges. Request a refund from your bank or credit card issuer if you suspect that a hacker stole your payment information.
Check your credit card statements often and stay on top of holiday shopping expenditures.
Monitor Your Credit and Identity
Monitor your credit report and identity. Monitor your credit report to ensure that no one has opened up a credit card, mortgage, or other line of credit in your name. Identity theft is a common scam. Hackers can get your personal information from online shopping sites, stolen tax documents, and even medical and health insurance information. Equifax itself was hacked exposing the personal information of hundreds of millions of consumers.
Sometimes the only way to detect identity theft is to order a copy of your credit report. Consumers are entitled to one free credit report each year from all three major credit reporting bureaus. Consumers are also entitled to a free credit report if they’ve been denied credit. US military veterans can get free credit reporting accounts for life while they’re on active duty
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers