Safe Online Shopping

With the holidays approaching, many of us will spend time shopping online. Before we begin shopping, let’s review how best to protect your privacy. Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer huge sales opportunities, they also present huge phishing opportunities for criminals. Keep these tips in mind when shopping.

Online Shopping - 4 Things to Keep in Mind

Avoid Clicking Email Links

Say you get an email with an unbelievable offer. It appears to be from one of your favorite stores and it says, click the link to apply this coupon. It’s tempting to click the link, but this may be a phishing attempt with the email impersonating your favorite store. A safer approach would be to visit the website via an Internet search or typing the company’s web address into the navigation bar. This way, you are sure you are visiting the store’s true location on the Internet. Can’t find the offer on the site? Call the store to confirm.

Watch Out for Fake Shopping Apps

As you know, phishing happens through multiple channels – email, text, social media messaging, and even apps! In past years, hundreds of fake shopping apps popped up on Google Play and Apple’s App Store. These appeared to be authentic, using authentic-looking logos and messaging. Some of the fake apps contained malware and others asked the user to “log in” to Facebook and then stole their credentials. To make a safe download choice, go to the company’s official webpage (via Internet search!) and follow the link to the official app. If you download straight from your app store, check the ratings on the app and make sure it’s been around for a while. Make it a habit not to be the first one to download any app.

Look for the Lock

Before entering personal information on any site, check the navigation bar for “HTTPS” at the beginning of the web address or the padlock next to the web address. This means that transmissions on the website are encrypted and cannot be seen by third parties. It does NOT mean that you are communicating with an authentic website. To make sure you are on the website you expect, carefully review the web address and keep in mind that cyber criminals may attempt to trick you with a similar web address.

Use Safe Payments

When paying online, be sure to use a protected payment method such as a credit card or PayPal. These methods offer buyer protection in the event of the dispute and additionally provide early fraud warnings. Beware of sites or apps that only accept money orders, wire transfers, or checks.

Stay alert when shopping this holiday season!

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