Last year the global pandemic hit us unexpectedly. Our whole year was a big bummer. The majority of people were feeling drained out in the lockdowns, especially those who were living away from their families. Holidays are the only time when they meet their loved ones. Well, that pretty much sums up the last year. This is different. Although we are still in the state of the pandemic, our lives are getting back on track. According to many cybersecurity reports, the rise in cybercrimes and scams is exponential. Therefore, we must look forward to ways to safeguard ourselves from being victimized. Since we all are under COVID restrictions, we opt to online shopping to shop this holiday. It is a golden opportunity for these scammers to sabotage your holidays and make them a lot less bright.
Here are our top nine security tips to help you shop safer this holiday season.
Use a Credit Card
Using a credit card prevents you from being held liable in case of a fraudulent transaction. Debit cards provide some protection, but it’s not as strong or comprehensive as those offered by credit cards. Your credit card provider can investigate fraud claims if your purchase is not delivered or an unauthorized person uses your card to purchase goods. In addition to offering disposable credit card numbers, some banks and security services such as Abine Blur provide disposable credit card numbers for online shopping.
Do Your Research
When someone advertises a top-of-the-line graphics card for $20 while the computer chip shortage and inflation are present, those offers are probably too good to be true. You can avoid fraud easily by doing your research thoroughly before buying. Look for reviews on their profile and, if they are based in the US, Canada, or Mexico, check their Better Business Bureau page.
Avoid SMS Links
There’s a holiday-related scam you’re almost certain to encounter: smishing. It’s essentially phishing via text. If you’ve ever received an unsolicited text with a link to a wonderful deal, it’s probably a scam. When you receive a link from an unknown number, be careful. Even if your phone or caller ID shows the name of someone you know, call or text them to see if they sent it before clicking. Phishing links can fool you into sharing sensitive information and catch you off guard with spoof numbers.
Watch for Typographic Errors
It is a good idea to keep an eye out for minor typos in familiar web addresses. Retailers buy common typo domains and redirect them to the correct website, but that doesn’t mean you should fat-finger your way through online shopping this holiday season. Websites posted by fraudsters often look like major retail sites but have URLs with slight differences. Perhaps the end of the URL ends in .co rather than .com, or a 1 replaces an ‘l.’ Pay attention to URLs for typos that are meant to trick you.
Shop on Trusted & Secure Sites
Whenever you visit a commercial site online, it must use HTTPS. If you cannot see the lock sign in the address bar, the site you are visiting is not secure. Some browsers, such as Chrome, mark sites without the lock as insecure. Always keep an eye on your address bar, and don’t wait for your browser to warn you.
Mask Your Email
When you buy anything online you are typically required to give up a lot of personal information, such as your name, address, email address, phone number, and credit card details. The use of disposable email addresses (DEAs) provides you control over who can access your actual email address. The merchant receives a unique DEA. As a result, mail sent to you goes to your inbox, but your reply is sent from the DEA. DEAs are particularly useful when dealing with merchants who are prone to spamming inboxes. Should you start receiving spam, just cancel the DEA. The merchant did not get your actual email address, so you won’t receive any more emails from them or third parties either.
Do Not Overshare
When you’re shopping, be wary of vendors who ask for a lot more information than you think is reasonable. For example, if you’re buying a new laptop, it’s understandable that a vendor will ask you for your physical address, but if your SSN (Social Security number) or maiden name is requested, it’s highly suspect.
Always Use a Password Manager
As soon as you make a purchase on a shopping site, you will be prompted to create an account. That means providing a username and password. Don’t use the same password throughout the holiday season! Password managers can create unique, strong passwords for all of your accounts; you don’t need to remember any of them. Just install the browser extension, and the manager will do the work.
Don’t Use Public WiFi
If you shop online at home rather than from public spaces such as a coffee shop, you don’t have to worry about public WiFi networks being malicious. You can even keep credit card information and passwords securely in a password manager. When shopping online, use cellular data instead of WiFi when you are out and about. If you must use WiFi while you are out shopping, install a VPN app on your phone so that data is encrypted while you are making your purchases.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
You must enable two-factor authentication on your payment channels since passwords alone are no longer sufficient for security. It is a security protocol that requires a purchaser to verify their identity by using two or more login methods. You will be protected from fraudulent transactions by this extra layer of security. If your bank account has 2FA enabled, you will be notified when someone attempts to use your debit card if your debit card information has been compromised.
To Sum Up
Scammers are always looking to sabotage your lives. It is best to take necessary precautions to safeguard yourself from being victimized. Whether you want to protect your accounts when shopping online or install, monitor, and maintain your antivirus software and firewall, Hello Nerds is here to help. We will scan your PC for threats, malware, and spyware, then install, monitor, and maintain your antivirus software and firewall, so you can shop with comfort.