Holiday shopping has taken off, and scammers are gearing up to take advantage of all the online transactions. They are eager to profit from this surge in business.
Don't neglect online safety during this holiday shopping rush. A penny saved is worth a pound saved, and it could help you steer clear of privacy or financial issues that could prove costly if neglected.
These are the top safety precautions for online holiday shopping.
Before you shop, check for device updates
Out-of-date software can leave your smartphone, tablet or computer vulnerable. While you might not want to wait 10 minutes for a 10-minute iPhone upgrade, doing so will make you safer overall.
Hackers frequently target vulnerabilities in operating systems of devices. To reduce the likelihood of being hacked, ensure you have all of the latest updates installed before shopping online for holiday gifts.
Email Links should Never Be Trusted
Yes, it can be annoying to be asked for "amazon.com" instead of clicking the link in an e-mail. Phishing scams are on the rise this time of year as clicking on an email link that leads to a malware site can initiate an automatic download of that software.
Avoid clicking on links and instead go directly to the website. You can save websites as shopping bookmarks to make it simpler, safer than clicking an email or text link.
When possible, utilize a wallet app
There is always the risk that your credit or debit card may be used for payment on an unfamiliar website. If you are doing holiday shopping from an unfamiliar site, the risk increases exponentially.
When making purchases online, consider using a wallet app. This way, you don't have to give your payment card information directly to the merchant; rather, you can share them with your chosen wallet service (Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal etc.). The retailer does not receive these details.
After checking out, delete any saved payment cards
Many websites, such as Amazon, automatically save your card information. While this may make shopping more convenient in the short term, it also puts you at risk for hackers to purchase or access your account or device should they gain access to it.
Retailers could also be vulnerable to data breaches. These can be serious incidents, as they could expose sensitive customer payment information. Your security is enhanced if fewer payment records are stored in databases.
Once your checkout is complete, remove your payment card by logging into your account settings.
Make sure your site uses HTTPS (with an emphasis on "S")
HTTPS has become the preferred standard for website design, replacing "HTTP" with an "S". A key benefit of HTTPS is that it encrypts data sent through it - including names, addresses, payment info and other personal details. With HTTPS you can be confident knowing these details remain safe from prying eyes.
Websites without HTTPS in their address bar should never be used for shopping. A small lock icon will be added to the address bar to confirm security.
Double-Check the URL of Your Site
Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, even when typing on a small smartphone screen. A typo could land you on Amazonn(dot.com), or worse yet, on an entirely duplicate site. To prevent such mishaps from happening to you, double-check each URL carefully before hitting submit.
Hackers purchase domains that look identical to popular retailer domains and then create copycat websites in an attempt to take advantage of users who make mistakes when entering the URL.
Before you make a purchase, double-check that you have arrived at the correct website.
Be wary if you shop online while connected to public Wi-Fi
Some users have reported being stalked when connecting. Hackers tend to target holiday shopping areas during peak traffic times and could potentially linger nearby. It's best not to shop when someone knows that someone else might be watching out for you.
They can spy on other devices connected to the same hotspot. They have access to everything you write, including passwords and credit card details.
Be mindful when shopping online if you are connected to public Wi-Fi networks. Instead, turn off Wi Fi and connect directly to your mobile carrier.
Be wary of brand impersonation emails and texts during the 2021 holiday shopping season. Phishing attacks were linked to an astounding 397 percent rise in typosquatting domains during this timeframe.
Be wary of phishing attacks during holidays. People expect sales emails from retailers during this time, which attackers know. Furthermore, they receive an abundance of shipping notices and order confirmations during this period.
Hackers use these emails as templates to impersonate legitimate companies like Target, UPS and Amazon. They create emails that appear almost identical to real ones in an attempt to trick you into clicking or logging in to malicious websites.
Be wary of impersonation emails from brand owners.
That is another reason why it's better to visit a site directly rather than use an email link for communication.
Enable Banking Alerts and monitor your account for suspicious charges
Keep an eye out for any unexpected fees that might indicate a breach. Automate the monitoring process by setting up alerts through your online banking app.
Many banks provide the option to set alerts for events like:
- When making a purchase that exceeds a specified dollar amount, an extra charge may apply.
- When purchasing from outside the country, taxation will apply.
How secure is your mobile device?
Holiday shopping scams often use malicious apps and mobile malware. Is your device protected from these threats and applications? Contact us today for a security assessment!