Online holiday shopping is expected to reach an all-time high this year due to the pandemic, and the fact that people are worried about shopping in crowded malls. Online retail sales are expected to grow as much as 25% to 35% between November and January.
All that online holiday shopping can mean convenience, and it can also mean security risks if you’re not taking proper precautions. Both office and home networks can be compromised and infected with viruses, ransomware, and more from just one wrong click on a malicious shopping ad.
Identify theft, credit card fraud and other online crimes are prevalent during the holidays because people often have their minds on other things and may click before they think while trying to get a ridiculously great deal.
43% of surveyed online shoppers said they experienced identity theft as a result of holiday online shopping.
While shopping online has pretty much become the norm these days, you still need to take proper precautions to ensure you don’t become a fraud or phishing victim and can have a smooth holiday season.
Safety Tips for Online Shopping this Season
Don’t Shop When on Free, Unprotected Wi-Fi
It can be tempting to make a purchase while you’re on a free Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop, but if your traffic isn’t encrypted by a VPN, a hacker on the same free network can see your data.
You never want to enter any sensitive information when connected to free or public Wi-Fi, such as passwords and credit card details.
If you’re on a mobile device, turn off Wi-Fi to ensure you’re on your carrier’s wireless network if you want to shop while mobile.
Only Shop Sites That You Know or Can Verify
Many scam sites pop up overnight during the holiday season as cybercriminals look to cash in on holiday shopping activity. It doesn’t take much for a site to look legitimate with nice images, etc. But just because a site looks good doesn’t mean it’s not a scam.
To be safe, only shop websites that you know and have shopped before. If you find a new site that you are really interested in, then verify its validity by doing a search online and looking up the company at places like the Better Business Bureau.
Do Not Shop Sites Without HTTPS
You never want to enter your credit card details into a site that does not have encryption. That encryption is signified by “HTTPS” in the address, rather than just HTTP. There will also be a lock to the immediate left of the URL in the address bar.
Sites that use HTTPS are using a security encryption that protects data being input into shopping forms to ensure it’s not compromised during transit.
Check Charities Out First
It’s natural to feel the spirit of giving during the holidays, and many online retailers will advertise that when you purchase from their site, they gift an item to charity.
Make sure you check out these sites and charities thoroughly before you purchase by using a site like CharityWatch, to make sure you’re not being fooled by a scam.
Don’t Fall for Social Media Sales from Unknown Retailers
It can be hard to resist adorable gift ads on your social media that are seemingly tailored exactly to your interests. Actually, these ads are targeted to you specifically based upon mountains of analytic data about your activities that Facebook allows advertisers to use.
This can lead to you falling for less than legitimate shopping sites where you receive something that looks nothing like the image or are scammed altogether. This is another time to remember to only shop retailers you know, and that goes for social media too.
Use Only Official Retailer Mobile Apps
Malicious mobile apps are another thing to watch out for when shopping during the holidays. They may promise you points back or rock bottom prices on designer gifts, but they can plant malware or steal payment card details.
If you shop via mobile app, make sure you’re using the official retailer’s application. Instead of trying to search the app in an app store and possibly picking a fake, look for the app download page on the retailer’s website.
Delete Credit Card Details from Online Accounts After Checkout
It’s never a good idea to leave your credit card details sitting in a retailer’s database. Yes, it can make checking out on Amazon much faster, but if you get into the habit of saving your card details online, it can leave you vulnerable to having them stolen in a data breach.
Large retailers are not immune to breaches, they’ve happened to Target, Home Depot, Hudson Bay, and others.
It’s a good rule of thumb to always delete your payment card details from your account after you’ve checked out. To be even safer, you can use a payment method like PayPal that doesn’t share your card details with the retailer.
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Learn more today about our affordable managed IT plans by calling 561-985-4961 or contacting us online.