Online Holiday Shopping Cyber Safety Tips

This year, online holiday shopping is expected to be at an all-time high as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to continue social distancing. What is traditionally a highly anticipated day for holiday deals, many retailers will even be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday to help limit large gatherings and to encourage online shopping. With the influx of digital shoppers also comes the increased risk of cyber scams and crimes. 

If you plan to join 66% of U.S. shoppers and make your purchases online this year, use these tips to help protect you and your information online this holiday season.

Never give out your personal information

This is the number one rule of cybersecurity yet more and more people are falling victim to identity theft each year. One of the common scams is a phone call or an email from someone requesting your credit card number or other personal information to complete a purchase or to help a loved one. For example, someone calls you and tells you that you’re the beneficiary of a large sum of money from a long lost relative and you just need to send them your bank information. These types of calls are on the rise this time of year and can wreak havoc on your financial assets should they hack into your accounts. 

Unless it is a trusted source and someone you’re familiar with, never give your personal information out over the phone or email or to an unsecured website. If you’re ever hesitant whether it’s a scam or not, you can call your local police department to report it or contact your bank to freeze your finances.

Check your statements

In general, you should be checking your bank statements frequently for fraud. This time of year, you should be especially mindful of your transactions and monitor them in the days following your purchase. A few key things to look out for:

  • Make sure the name of the business you purchased from is correct.
  • Double-check the total amount you were charged.
  • Keep an eye out for any follow-up charges from an unknown source. 
  • Immediately report any fraudulent charges to your bank.

Shop directly through the business

Today, there are a number of third-party phone apps and websites that allow you to make purchases through sources other than the retailer itself that offer deals and discounts that seem too good to be true — and they probably are. To ensure you protect your information, it’s best to go straight to the retailer website to make your purchases or contact the retailer to make sure their affiliation is real.

Avoid public Wi-Fi

If you’re out and about, it might be tempting to hop on your phone and make a purchase while it’s on your mind. However, using public Wi-Fi opens you up to a number of scams and hacks. Your best bet is to make a note about what you want to buy and then make the purchase when you’re connected to a secured network. 

Never autosave your information

One of the best perks of online and mobile shopping today is that you may just need to click one button to make a purchase. As convenient as this is, it’s also really dangerous for your finances and makes you vulnerable to an attack. You should never save your bank information or personal information when checking out on an online retailer. It might be an extra step to add it in each time, but you’ll be glad you did if someone ever tries to steal your identity. 

Update your software

Computer and mobile devices are constantly updating their internal software to help protect you. As technology evolves, so do cybercriminals and they’re always finding new ways to hack into your network. As tempting as it may be to click “remind me later” when asked about completing a software update, you should really try to stay up to date with these, especially if online shopping frequently.

Double-check the URL

Hackers have become fairly smart and developed websites to look almost exactly like the ones you’re used to seeing if you frequent a particular retailer’s website. Before you make a purchase, double-check the URL to make sure it has the lock icon and has the “s” after http, which means secure. 

Additionally, you should consider only shopping from familiar sites this year. With crimes on the rise, you’ll be more likely to recognize fraud if you’re browsing a site you have visited many times before. 

Stay up to date on current scams

New scams come up every day so it can be challenging to keep up with them all. If you get a suspicious email, phone call, or are unsure if a website is safe, a quick internet search can help you identify others who may have experienced a similar scam. Additionally, you can call your local police department to report suspicious activity or to see if others have reported similar cyberattack attempts. 

We hope these tips help you stay safe throughout the holiday season. To review your current insurance policy or speak to an agent about your options for extended coverage, please visit our website. 

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