7 Tips for Online Consumers to Protect Themselves this Holiday Season
Holiday season 2015 is quickly approaching, and with that is the season that is on the mind of consumers. Shopping season! With Ecommerce sales at an all time high, the convenience of online shopping means you never hsve to leave your couch. But, with that convenience comes risks. Lots of them. Now is the time to heed the warnings and protect yourself when doing your shopping online.
Whenever e Commerce rises (And it is a constant) so do the incidents of online scams. 2015 is no different and probably will be hit the hardest. As brands try to protect themselves, the online scammers are ready to come at them with full force. 2015 has been a banner year for data breaches and experts are expecting more breaches, identity theft, cyber attacks and online theft to hit consumers this holiday season.
So, you might be thinking what measures you can take to not become jut another victim. Below I've included some practical and basic tips that can help make this holiday season a safe one for consumers.
Shop at secure sites
When you shop at your favorite website, ensure that the site has a URL that begins with HTTPS or has a symbol of a closed padlock as the one below. A website that uses HTTPS in its URL is one that is encrypted. This means that the information sent from the site can not be read by a third party. If you enter your personal information on a site that does not begin with HTTPS, you are leaving yourself open to your personal information being intercepted by scammers.
Safely store your passwords and bring them up only when needed
It is a best shopping practice to change passwords frequently (Every 60-90 Days). Use passwords that include random characters and numbers and store them in a safe place, even on a sheet of paper to prevent password theft.
Don't use one method of payment
Using multiple methods of payments for the different shopping site can ensure that you reduce the amount of damage to your accounts if there is a data breach at any of the online sites you have shopped. For instance, lets say you use Paypal attached to a credit card to pay at a particular site, use another credit card at a different one.
Guard your personal Information
You may or may not know this, but cyber crime's top targets are sites we use everyday; Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Amazon. Lots of online retailers tell you to store your personal info on their sites for convenience purposes. However, this makes you more prone to your info or your identity being stolen. Sure, it's a hassle to enter you credit card info each time you want to make a purchase, but in the end you will be safer and won't have to worry of being a fraud victim.
Social Networking and Phishing Scams
Be aware of emails and SMS messages you receive which indicate that there is a problem or a question related to your financial accounts. This scam directs recipients to call a phone number or follow a link to correct a problem. The link will most likely direct you to reenter personal information such as PIN, credit card or bank account number and if you follow these instructions, more likely than not your information will be stolen.
Yet another scam will direct the recipient of an email or text message to a bargain website that looks too real to be fake. These professional looking websites usually use product photos directly from the authentic ones and will sell you phony goods, for ridiculously low prices. Be aware of these.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is known as the biggest shopping day of the year. The following Monday has come to be known as Cyber Monday when online retailers offer phenomenal deals on everything from electronics to toys to fashion. These two days are scammer paradises. As a consumer you need to watch out for any emails that promote one day sales from recognized brands. You need to be wary of these websites, as if you do a bit of investigation you will realize they are fake. Stay away from them!
Hope these tips help you become a safer shopper this holiday season! Please feel free to comment in the section below on ways you can help readers become safer and more educated consumers.