We have entered the busiest part of the year when it comes to shopping. For most people, doing the holiday shopping from the comfort of their home is more convenient, but there are many risks when shopping online.
In order to help you avoid scams, CasinoTop10.net asked their cyber security experts to share the most important guidelines you should follow to make your online holiday shopping as safe as possible.
1. Stay At Home
Filling your online cart while sitting in the local coffee shop may seem tempting, but it poses several threats. If you are connected to a public Wi-Fi, hackers have free access to all your information. Not to mention that some scammers set up their own Wi-Fi hotspots with the same name as the coffee shop’s, for example, and there is no way for your device to tell the difference between the two.
If the circumstances don’t allow you to postpone your shopping until you get home, switch to your cellular data and/or install a VPN which will keep your online activity secure and private.
2. Shop At Trusted, Well-Known Retailers and Etailers
Well-established retailers make sure that their customers are protected from online attacks. Although some may allow third-party sellers to advertise on their sites, you can check the “sold by and shipped from” note to make sure you are not dealing with an unknown seller.
When it comes to the security of the site, most big-name retailers are safe, but if you want to support small businesses and local shops, you should pay extra attention. If the site is secure, it will have a little lock before its URL. Moreover, a safe site’s URL starts with HTTPS, not HTTP.
3. Watch Out For The Common Scams
Scammers have come up with many creative ways to attract unsuspecting customers, so you have to stay on your toes, especially during the holiday season. If you see a great deal pop up on your screen, you may click on it without thinking. Before buying anything, research the seller, check their reviews, and make sure that it is a real business. You can also check one of the many consumer complaint sites.
In your holiday frenzy, you may also type in the wrong website name, which is something that scammers have prepared for. It is not rare for them to create websites that look almost identical to the original, with only a slight difference in the URL, usually a common spelling mistake or a different ending. To prevent these schemes, large retailers have bought different typo variations of their domains, all of which direct you to the real site.
Watch out for phishing scams as well. As a general rule, don’t click on any links you get from random numbers and suspicious email addresses.
4. Be Careful With Your Information
When shopping online, avoid paying with your debit card, as it gives direct access to the money in your bank account. Instead, always opt for a credit card, or even better, a payment provider. Paying with a payment provider means that the retailer never gets your card information, and it will save you the trouble of typing in your information every time you want to buy something online.
Websites often ask you to store your information for future purchases, which puts your data at risk if a data breach happens. This is another reason why using a payment provider is the better option.
It is not just your financial information that is at risk; you are required to give some personal information, such as your name, email address, and your home address. You can mask your email address with disposable email address (DEA) utilities, and some even allow you to hide your phone number and credit card details.
Furthermore, make sure not to give out any unnecessary information. Some sites may ask for your Social Security number, which they have no need for when they are shipping your items.
5. Don’t Forget The Importance Of Your Password
Some sites allow you to check out as a guest, but others require you to make a profile with your information. If you know you will be coming back to that website in the future, it is more convenient to create an account. When creating your account, make sure that your password is strong and unique.
We hear warnings about using the same password for everything, but it really is important not to have one password for everything. If hackers get a hold of someone’s password for one site, they will often try using it on other sites as well because they know that many people recycle their passwords. A password manager is the best solution for this problem, as it will generate strong passwords, keep them in one place, and autofill your payment information, making the whole process safe and fast.
One of the CasinoTop10’s experts concludes: “The holiday season is the ideal time for scammers. People are often in a rush and under a lot of stress during this period, and they are focused on finding the best deals for the items on their shopping list. Because of that, they don’t pay as much attention to details, which makes them the perfect target for scammers and hackers. Getting familiar with common scams will help you stay alert because you will know what to look out for. Also, being careful with the information you share with different websites is of great importance, and it is always best to share as little as possible, even with the sites you trust completely.”