Safe Online Shopping Guidance for the Holidays and Cyber WeekOctober 20, 2020
Smartphones and the Internet have revolutionized the way consumers shop. Armed with a few search terms and simple clicks, we can find items, compare prices, read product reviews, order, and pay for all types of items from electronics, appliances, and tools to furniture, clothes, and groceries. Often, consumers also have the power to choose whether purchases will be picked up in store or delivered right to our doorstep. Any way you look at it, online shopping is a fast and convenient way to buy what we want and need.
Online convenience also comes with some risk. Sometimes consumers don’t receive exactly what they ordered; get scammed by fraudulent websites; or become victims of identity theft and/or loss. Cybercriminals are opportunistic, and they will be seeking to exploit the growth in online shopping this holiday season. But don’t worry, with a little preparation and vigilance, consumers can safely and securely shop online and avoid falling victim to scams.
Since cybercrime is largely motivated by money, that makes Black Friday and Cyber Monday very attractive targets for cybercriminals. And that means increased phishing attempts that try to get you to reveal personal information, account credentials, and credit card numbers. Through email, fake ads, and illegitimate websites, cybercriminals are hoping some unwitting consumers will let their guard down in the rush to secure the best deals before they’re gone.
Since consumers often spend more than usual during the holiday season, it’s easy to lose focus when an email or text message arrives under the guise of your credit card provider or bank regarding a suspicious transaction or frozen account. Without prior awareness of these scams, some consumers mistakenly click on links or share their personal information. Instead, consumers should be aware of these and other common attacks and use caution to avoid falling victim.
Knowledge is power. Enjoy your online shopping experience by following best practices and increase your awareness of common scams. These eight tips can help you get the deals and avoid the scams:
- Use familiar websites and know thy vendors. Before providing any personal or financial information, be sure that you are doing business with a reputable, established vendor. Verify the legitimacy of the website by reviewing certificate information, including who it was issued to. Check the BBB’s online directory and scam tracker or search retailer reviews on Google.
- Look for the ‘s’ and the lock. Always look for the security symbol, such as an unbroken padlock in the address bar and URLs that start with ‘https’. This ensures that your information is protected with encryption.
- Avoid phishing and social engineering attacks. Be wary of unsolicited email requesting information from you, such as fake invoices or shipping notifications. Legitimate businesses don’t ask for information via email. Instead of responding to the email or clicking on links, type in the merchant’s authentic website address yourself and log in to check your account.
- Be aware of common tricks. Educate yourself about common online scams to avoid falling for too-good-to-be-true deals, including rock-bottom prices form unknown internet retailers, fake ads and social media offers, gift card scams, and more.
- Use credit, not debit. Credit cards offer an extra level of protection from fraudulent charges that may not be available with a debit card. You can add additional purchase protections by using a payment gateway like PayPal, Good Wallet, or Apple Pay. Secure payment gateways stop purchase data from being intercepted by hackers.
- Monitor your statements and verify receipts. Keep records of your purchases, including confirmation pages or email receipts, to compare with your bills and statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.
- Always use strong passwords. Simple and commonly used passwords allow hackers to easily gain access and control of your online accounts, change shipping addresses, and make purchases using your credit cards.
- Don’t purchase over public Wi-Fi. If you shop using your mobile phone, stay on your carrier’s cellular network. Free public Wi-Fi can be much less secure.
CyberScout®—We’ll take it from here.™
CyberScout is leading the charge against hackers and thieves, providing identity management, credit monitoring and cyber security for more than 17.5 million households and 770,000 businesses. Contact your bank, credit union, insurance company or employer to find out if they offer CyberScout services.
This information is meant to be a broad overview and should not be the only source you consult for evaluating your risk management needs. Adherence to the above guidelines does not ensure coverage under your policy, nor does it guarantee your risk will be accepted by our company or that your property or operations are safe, healthful, or in compliance with laws, rules, or regulations. Coverage is determined by specific policy provisions, limitations and exclusions that can only be expressed in the policy itself.