Protect Yourself – Online Shopping

By Lauren Wong 

While stores bring in their best deals of the year, scammers take advantage and hop on the trend. As you start ticking things off your shopping list, keep in mind that while the majority of us are overtaken with the joy and spirit of giving, there are still those people out there who have the sole intention of scamming you.

Shop smart online to avoid dealing with online traps. Take all the precautions you can to insure a smooth sailing holiday season. Keep these tips in your back pocket as you fill up your virtual shopping cart.

Think twice before clicking on any links that pop up in your inbox, social media posts, comments, etc. Be cautious of anything that comes from a second hand source. One simple click allows scammers to hack into your email or Facebook, spread viruses, compromise your data, get your information, and even impersonate you.

First, it’s important to keep all your devices up to date. The reason you’re always getting notifications about installing new software updates is because companies are always finding ways to increase security. When it comes to passwords, as convenient as it is, don’t fall back on using the same password across various accounts. Always make sure your passwords are unique and complex so they can’t be easily guessed. On the off chance that they do get into one of your accounts, they won’t be able to take that password and gain access to additional ones.

In your settings, turn on multi-factor authentication. As you go through your email filled with coupons and deals, be certain it’s coming directly from the company or retailer. When in doubt, go directly to the URL of who you’re buying from.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi especially when accessing your personal or financial information. Double check for https versus http in the web browser to verify the site is encrypted. You can also download a browser extension that works to detect scams. When making online purchases it’s always best to use a credit card instead of a debit. As your bill adds up, double and triple check your statements to make sure all transactions are legitimate.

If there is a list of stores you know you’ll be making a lot of purchases from, consider downloading their app. Shopping directly from their app versus online protects you from those pop-up scams that ‘promise’ the best deals. Don’t mindlessly click links that say they have your tracking information or want you to verify a purchase. These are additional ways hackers try to gain access to your personal information.

Finally, it’s smart to open up a secondary email account and Google voice phone number to use solely for online shopping. This will protect your email address and personal cell phone number from getting blown up with scams.

Following these simple steps will help you make sure you don’t fall victim to the traps scammers set up during the holiday season. Keep your information safe and protected to avoid the headache of sitting on hold with your bank provider, and most importantly, get shopping!


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