5 Tips for Shopping Online During the Holidays

Person wearing a festive sweater uses a laptop

Dec 2, 2019

The holiday countdown is on, summer is officially over, and it’s time to get into the holly jolly spirit.

BUT WAIT… before you get too excited...

The holidays are a bonanza for cybercriminals and more than half of holiday shoppers will find themselves making purchases online during the 2019 holiday season.

Whether it’s credit card fraud, bank account infiltration or identity theft, online shoppers are at high risk. So how do you protect yourself from cyber criminals this holiday season? We’re glad you asked.

Here’s how:

Look for the Padlock

Not all e-commerce sites provide the ideal conditions for safe online shopping. It’s important to limit your shopping to encrypted websites, and only conduct transactions when you’re on a trusted WiFi network. In order to do this, look for the padlock icon to the left of URLs in your browser. The URL in your browser should read HTTPS (not just HTTP) the “S” stands for secure and indicates that all communication between your browser and the website is encrypted.

Avoid Unknown Sites

This one seems like an obvious one, but with all of the digital ads we are faced with on a daily basis it’s an easy one to forget. Avoid shopping on sites that you’ve never heard of or offer deals that seem too good to be true. Obscure sites selling heavily discounted merchandise could be fraudulent and steal your credit or debit card information if you enter these details.

Be on the Lookout for Phishing Emails

Cyber criminals use phishing emails to lure shoppers to illegitimate websites that steal credit and debit card information or get people to unknowingly download malware. If you receive a suspicious email with an attachment or a link to a website you’ve never heard of, don’t open the attachment or  click the URL. The link could lead to a malicious website and malware could be embedded in the attachment. Once again, if the email is offering a deal that seems too good to be true, it’s likely a scam.

Check Your URLs

If there is one tip that should show up on a billboard it should be this one. Diligently check the URLs of the websites you visit. Criminals create fake websites with URLs ALL THE TIME that may look very similar to the ones of legitimate websites. They’ll often subtly add or change a letter in the URL to deceive people. Don’t be fooled, always check your URLs. Check out how REAL this website looks from Macy’s.

STOP using Public Wi-Fi Networks

Use your smartphone as a hotspot to connect your laptop to the Web instead of using free public Wi-Fi networks found in airports and hotels. The data on free public Wi-Fi networks is unencrypted and can be easily intercepted by attackers staging man-in-the-middle attacks. That data could include log-in credentials for banking sites or credit card numbers.

These tips aren’t just applicable to online shopping during the holiday season. They can be used to stay safe when shopping online throughout the year. Happy SAFE Shopping! 

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