During this pandemic, many of us have been purchasing everything from groceries to household items and even birthday gifts online. E-commerce sales are expected to explode this holiday season and cyber criminals are always working on their next score. With nearly $196 billion expected in sales, the holiday season provides another opportunity for them to try and dupe you. Avoid getting scammed by using these tips to help keep you safe while online shopping:
1. Unique account, unique password.
Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work/University and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have strong passwords -- and multi-factor authentication if possible.
2. Don't ever give your financial information or personal information via email or text.
Pay by credit card, not debit card. Credit cards offer protections that may reduce your liability if your information is used improperly. Debit cards typically do not have the same level of protection. A related tip is to use a separate credit card only for your digital transactions. While this won’t prevent theft, it will limit your exposure and make online fraud easier to detect.
3. Only use apps from known, reputable sources.
Less reputable apps can include malicious software ("malware") designed to steal credit card and other sensitive information. And keep your apps up to date.
4. Don't respond to pop-ups.
Ignore pop-up offers and deals. Just close them. Don’t respond, click on the links or call the phone numbers. Similarly, don’t respond to popups saying that you need to buy anti-virus software or software to “clean your infected computer”. These are all scams.
5. Secure your devices.
Use a six digit pin or biometric (fingerprint or facial scan). Don’t use the password for any other accounts. Set a timeout that locks your devices after a period of inactivity, and be sure they require a password or other authentication to start up or resume activity. Disable Bluetooth, wireless, and Near Field Communications (NFC) when not in use to reduce the risk of your data being intercepted by thieves. Some stores and other locations also look for devices with wireless or Bluetooth turned on to track your movements while you are within range.
And lastly remember to review privacy policies for the websites/merchants you are visiting. Know what information the merchant is collecting about you, how it will be stored, how it will be used, and if it will be shared with others.
-Information Security. Made Bearable.