With smartphones in almost every pocket, consumers don’t always wait for Cyber Monday to begin shopping on line for great holiday deals. In fact, last year over 103 million people shopped online between Thanksgiving and Sunday, and spent a record $8.03 billion online during that time period.
Safe buying habits on line start with being truly present during the purchase. Make sure that the websites that you are visiting are reputable, long-standing, secure sites and not phantom virtual store fronts offering deals that are inevitably too good to be true.
Remember hackers are shopping for YOU as you shop for those perfect holiday gifts, be sure to keep your guard up and shop smart to keep your accounts safe and secure as possible. To help you stay safer, here are six tips to prepare you for Cyber Monday Madness.
1. Don’t Be Click Happy You should always be diligent about e-mail practices, but particularly around this time of year when hackers push out phishing schemes in hopes of catching you at a weak moment during the holiday rush.
A good rule of thumb? Never click on a URL that you receive in an email, particularly an email that comes from a merchant or a bank. These forged emails trick you into clicking on links where you enter logins and passwords on fake sites. Here a hacker gains valuable information about you, your buying habits and your credit and banking information. The easiest way to avoid getting caught up in a phishing scam? Don’t be click happy. Type the actual URL of the website you want to visit in your browser not on the imbedded link.
2. Keep it Clean
Inside your inbox is a boat load of password reset links, statements from banks and other accounts as well as tons of emails containing sensitive and personal information. Hackers can sift through this information to get your birthday, address, names of family members and friends and build a good deal of referential data on you that they can use in the future to falsely represent themselves as you. The simplest way to reduce the amount of data they can access is to make a habit of deleting any emails that contain proprietary or sensitive data.
3. Credit Cards Beat Debit Cards
When you whip out the plastic to pay for that fantastic deal, make sure you use a credit card not a debit card for your transactions. You are usually protected under both cards, but since it takes some time to sort out the fraudulent charges you don’t want your cash situation to be….completely out of your pocket. Make sure you check ALL of your credit card statements and report any transactions that don’t look legitimate.
4. Reusing Passwords is Worse than Weak Passwords
Afraid you can’t remember all of your passwords? Well think twice before using the same password more than once. According to the experts reusing passwords is a bigger danger than using weak ones. Don’t make the mistake of using the same password on shopping sites that you do for your banking or other sensitive sites. There are password manager you can use that will enable you to manage the plethora of passwords, do some research and find the one that works best for you.
5. Watch Out for BLOW OUT Sales and Stores that Blow Out of the Picture
Looking for the best deal can sometimes lead you to a phantom store that for all intents looks legitimate but after securing your credit card information and payment, takes your info and runs. These phantom sites can be very convincing so make sure that you check out the URL. Look to make sure it has some convincing evidence that it is legitimate and there is an “https://” at the beginning of the URL. Word to the wise, if it looks too good to be true…it probably is.
6. Updates Keep You Safer
Ever get those pesky messages that nag you to update your browser or your other applications, add ons and programs? Don’t ignore them. When you get a pop up that reminds you there is an update, make sure to make sure it is legitimate and then schedule time to update your programs with the recommended security updates. If you get an email with a link, ignore that and instead type into your browser the correct URL to download the update.
The holiday hustle and bustle are here. Make sure you keep your holidays jolly and be cautious, diligent and informed when buying on-line.
Happy Thanksgiving and Best Wishes for a Magnificent Holiday Season!