Shop-o-holics and retailers rejoice!
The season of grabbing great deals (before you even decide if you actually need another tablet) is here! Black Friday and its spin-off, Cyber Monday, open up the most significant time of year for retailers and bargain-obsessed shoppers alike. Prices are slashed and wares fly off the shelf faster than boxes of tissues in cold season.
The buying frenzy can be a whole lot of fun, snapping up bargains from the comfort of your couch (if you really want to go out to the mall, be our guests but don’t say we didn’t warn you) but there is a downside to Cyber Monday and in truth, all e-commerce as well. Hackers know just as well as you do that you are looking for a good deal and this is one of their favorite times of year to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. By just shopping without thinking, you can get yourself in a lot of trouble so proceed with caution.
To help you stay safe we offer you 13 tips on how to avoid scammers, phishers and all around jerks this shopping season.
Keep away from strangers!
Never shop on sites or open email promotions from stores you don’t recognize. Stick with known entities. Hey, you might pay a bit more for that xBox but it’s better than having your bank account cleared out by scammers!
Ditch the debit card
Use a credit card to shop online, rather than a debit card or check. Using a credit card gives you more protection than using a debit card which allows hackers access to your bank. Also, credit cards allow you to dispute unfair charges and many cards have a “zero-liability” plan which means that if hackers or scammers do get access to your card info, the bank picks up the tab, not you.
Use https where you can
Only shop on sites whose address starts with https. The “S” indicates that there are extra layers of security, making your transaction safer. Look for a padlock icon on the left side of your browser search bar and if you don’t see it, move on to another site. It’s just not worth the risk
Call your bank
Call your bank ahead of the big day to make sure they have updated contact info for you in case of an emergency or suspected fraud.
Public Wifi is a no-no
Never shop over public WiFi. All a hacker has to do is set up a network with a pretty common name like “ friendly coffee shop” and wait for suckers to use it. Once they are on, hackers can see and steal all their info. Wait to shop until you get home.
Make strong passwords!
Create strong & unique password for each site you use. Don’t reuse passwords – that’s just asking for problems – if a hacker gets your password for one site and you use it on other sites, he has just gotten access to all your accounts. Use a password that is random and doesn’t contain words that can be found in the dictionary unless they have special characters mixed into them
Patch and update
Keep all your software as up to date as possible. As soon as a patch is released for your operating system, install it. Patching and keeping programs running at their most current versions is one of the best ways to keep your devices safe from hackers so you can enjoy your shopping.
Don’t store your info
When you shop online with your credit card, don’t allow sites to store your information. Log on as a guest or use PayPal or another trusted gateway payment system.
Install a strong malware solution
If your computer isn’t protected by a strong malware solution you can be sure that it’s an open door for hackers. To keep baddies and scammers out of your computer this Cyber Monday and everyday of the year, install a program like RCS that blocks entry to malware and keeps it clean from the inside as well.
Skip shopping on social media
Social media is fun but don’t go looking for great buys there this time of year. Scammers know you can’t resist a good deal and they are just waiting to pounce on victims using irresistible ads filled with bogus promises and potentially lots of malware.
Check your bank statement
Check your credit card statement often to make sure it all seems okay. Scammers love to commit micro theft to test the waters and see if a victim will notice. Be extra vigilant as we enter the busiest shopping season of the year.
Shop from a trusted vendors app
When shopping on a tablet or phone, use a trusted vendors app. Don’t use your mobile browser – there is a greater chance of winding up on a page you didn’t expect from your browser than an app.
Things that seem too good to be true usually aren’t
Sometimes you just have a gut feeling about things – sure, the site seems authentic, right down to the url but there is just something that seems too good to be true. Follow your instinct – if a deal just doesn’t make sense, five iPhone 7’s for a buck apiece? And I got a bridge to sell ya) stay far far away.
Well there you have it, the top tips to stay safe and secure while you snag some great deals. Do you have any other tips to stay safe from scammers this season? Let us know your thoughts!