Deal ONLY With Reputable Retailers That You Know And Trust.
Despite the ravaging inflation, retail sales are actually up. Target, Walmart and Amazon are generally in line or above revenue predictions. People are using credit cards at an all time high and hackers and scammers are prowling for easy targets during this shopping season. Follow these rules to protect yourself from hackers and fraud.
To avoid falling for shopping scams online:
- Never click onto a website via an ad, pop up, email or text message.
- Take the time, its just a couple of seconds, to search the official URL or website name of the retailer to ensure you’re not being directed to a fraudulent website.
- Check the retailer’s social media platforms and reviews (such as on Trust Pilot)
Be Aware Of The Retailer’s URL:
Whether you’re shopping with well-known retailers or with smaller brands, you should be equally cautious.
- You should check that the website’s URL begins with HTTPS and not HTTP.
- The ‘S’ means it’s secure. Websites that have this ‘S’ means it encrypts your data, hiding it from hackers.
- Check for the little symbol of a lock at the beginning of the URL.
If you do not see the lock symbol and the site’s URL is not HTTPS do not purchase from it.
Warn your friends and family of the website to prevent anyone purchasing from it.
Use Strong Passwords:
When making an online purchase, if you decide to create an account with the retailer instead of “continuing as a guest”, make sure you protect that account by creating a strong password.
- Use at least 8 characters including some capital letters, numbers and symbols.
- Purchase a reliable Password Generator program.
- Do not rely on web browsers to save your login credentials.
Google suggests strong passwords, which is useful but be aware that if someone hacks into your general Google account, they will be able to see every ‘Google Suggested’ password that you’ve saved. This means that any website you’ve payment details or personal information saved on, the hacker will have an open door to that also.
If you decide to create an account or not, you never save your payment details (bank account, credit or debit cards) on the website. Even though it makes shopping easier for future purchases, if that site falls victim to an attack, your payment details will be available for a hacker to steal and use. If you pay via PayPal, the site will not store your PayPal account information.
DO NOT SHOP ON PUBLIC WIFI:
Using public Wi-Fi (such as at Starbucks, etc.) is an open invite for hackers.
Public Wi-Fi is often unsecured and unencrypted making you vulnerable to hackers waiting to pounce and steal your personal information such as your email address, mobile number and credit card details etc.
- If you have to use public Wi-Fi, invest in a ‘Virtual Private Network’, a VPN.
This is a tool that gives you privacy and security, keeping your data safe on public WiFi. You can get free trials of a VPN to use for Cyber Monday and Black Friday, but this should be something you invest in anyway. VPNs cost anything from $4 – $10 per month.
People spend that on numerous streaming channels every month. It makes sense that we should be spending the same amount to protect ourselves, even from “Kosher” sites.
Check your bank accounts regularly:
- Keep an eye on your bank account for irregular activity during and after the shopping season.
- Glance through your transactions and make sure the amounts charged are correct and make sense to you.
- If there is a transaction listed that you can’t account for, or you notice anything irregular, contact your bank immediately.