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Be Aware of Online Shopping Scams and Protect Your Personal Information!
Tips & Tricks For Safe Online Shopping This Holiday Season
While shopping for gifts this holiday season, it is important to protect yourself from the many scammers and cybercriminals that want to take advantage of online shoppers. To protect your personal information from being stolen, there are some precautions that can be taken to minimize risks without a lot of hassle! Don’t wait until it is too late. Here are some tips and tricks that you should follow when shopping online.
Before Beginning Your Shopping Spree…
- Keep Your Device Clean. If your device is compromised, your information is compromised. Make sure to keep your devices and apps updated to the latest version. You should also make sure that your device is not infected with viruses and malware before shopping.
- Secure Your Online Shopping Accounts. All accounts should be protected with a strong and unique password. It is also advisable to enable multi-factor authentication to add additional layers to your account security. Don’t let a weak password compromise your personal information!
- Research Websites and Sellers. Nobody likes receiving defective products in the mail. Make sure to read reviews about online stores and sellers to make sure that you are receiving the best possible products. If a store has a lot of negative reviews, it may not be a good idea to purchase products from them.
- Secure a Safe Connection. If possible, avoid making purchases and logging into accounts while connected to public Wi-Fi. Open Wi-Fi connections can allow cyber criminals access to your personal information. It is good practice to change your device settings to limit wireless access and connect to a private and secure network when making purchases and logging into accounts. If you must use public Wi-Fi, it is a good idea to invest in a virtual private network (VPN) service to connect to.
While Looking For The Perfect Gifts…
- Only Shop On Reliable Websites. There are many websites online that sell products, however not all websites that sell products are safe. Make sure to do some research about the website that you plan on using and only provide the minimal amount of information necessary to perform a purchase. Online stores should provide you with the ability to make a secure account and should not ask you for unnecessary information
- Be Skeptical About Deals. If it looks too good to be true, don’t risk it! Scammers may try to sell items for a low price to entice online shoppers to provide them with their credit card information. In addition, items that are being sold for much less than they are worth may be defective or made with poor quality.
- Check the Website Address Bar Before making purchases on a website, it is a good idea to verify that the website is secure by looking for the lock icon before the URL and that the URL begins with “https://”. If the “http” is missing the “s”, it is not secure. In addition, when clicking on links to a website, make sure that you have arrived at the website that you intended on visiting.
- Avoid Storing Your Information. Storing your account and card information makes it easier to make purchases, however it also makes it easier for cyber criminals to steal your information and empty your bank account. After you make a purchase, make sure that your information is not stored on the website or through your web browser. If you must store your information, it is a good idea to use a secure service or password manager to ensure that your data is not exposed on the internet (see our article about password managers).
If you believe that your personal information may be compromised, don’t wait. Immediately notify the appropriate authorities and secure your compromised accounts with new credentials.