The Christmas season is fast approaching, and with that comes a plethora of holiday shopping to be done. Unfortunately, scammers use this frantic shopping season to take advantage of Santa Ana consumers. From credit card fraud to computer malware, there are dozens of tactics that hackers use to gain access to your financial information. In order to stay safe this holiday season, follow these 12 rules of safe online shopping.
- Beware of malware
‘Tis the season for malware, so you should always take care before you click. When shopping for a specific item, visit the company’s website directly rather than searching for the item via a search engine. Phony sites created to look like the popular brand’s website can fool even the savviest of shoppers and lead you to download malware that can harm your computer or steal its data.
- Look for the padlock
Always make sure that you are browsing on a secure website! The website should have an ‘s’ in https:// and will have a padlock next to the web address. If you don’t notice either of these details, don’t shop! Never enter financial information into an unsecured site.
- Comparison shop different websites
One of the biggest advantages of online shopping is that you can almost instantaneously compare the prices and reputations of several different sellers offering the same item. If you’re looking at one product in particular, compare different websites and choose the one that has the most reviews, most positive reviews, and the most reasonable price.
- Use familiar websites
It’s always best to use websites you’re familiar with in order to reduce your chances of credit card fraud or other malicious tactics. Department stores and other big-box retailers are a great place to get a variety of products for every member of your family while minimizing your risk for deception.
- Beware of phishing
Phishing is a rampant issue during the holiday shopping season. Emails promising unbelievable savings are filling your inbox from every retailer under the sun. However, among these great deals are also duplicate spam emails that replicate the appearance of your favorite retailer’s marketing emails in order to get you to click on their embedded links. Beware these phishing scams, as they can steal your sensitive information in a matter of seconds. Always double-check the sender’s email address before clicking any links, or visit the retailer’s website directly.
- Check your billing statements often
Even if you’ve been extremely cautious in your online shopping tactics, fraud can still happen to anyone. Make sure that you are checking your bank statements very regularly during this time of year, and immediately report any unfamiliar credit card activity to your bank.
- Be wary of deceptively good deals
There are plenty of doorbuster deals happening in the run-up to Christmas, but some discounts are just too good to be true. If you notice a deal that’s too incredible to pass up, take a second to assess its legitimacy. You may have been led to an unsecured website, a fake website, or you may receive an inferior or defective product.
- Protect with security patch updates
Make sure that you are staying up-to-date with your devices’ latest security updates in order to best protect your data. Failing to update on time can leave you vulnerable to hackers, malware, and other cybersecurity threats.
- Double-check links before clicking
Before you click on any link, whether it’s in an email or online, double-check where the link will direct you and who the sender is. If you don’t recognize the sender or if the link is on an unsecured, unfamiliar website, don’t click! Taking an extra second to be cautious could save you precious hours recovering your identity and financial information later.
- Use credit, not debit
When purchasing online, it’s always wiser to use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit cards offer better fraud protection, so if someone does use your information, it will be much easier for you to get that money back.
- Beware public Wi-Fi
Never enter your credit card number or other sensitive information while using public WiFi. If you must use public WiFi, stick to trusted retail sources like Starbucks or Barnes & Noble. Never use an unrecognized public WiFi network for browsing, as it leaves you susceptible to password and bank fraud.
- Check out return policies
Before purchasing from an unfamiliar site, double-check their return policies. Any reputable e-commerce site will accept returns or exchanges for their items, especially around the holiday season. If they don’t accept returns of any kind, even in the instance of a damaged product, proceed with caution.
If you’re going to be online shopping this holiday season, follow these essential steps to keep yourself safe. If you’re browsing from a work computer, as many of us do, data protection is even more crucial. Keep your employees and your Santa Ana company safe with valuable IT services such as cybersecurity training, data backup, and Dark Web services from C3 Tech Solutions. To find out more about our services and office technology, give us a call today at (714) 689-1700. We would be happy to assist you with whatever IT services your company needs.