As anticipated, Black Friday and Cyber Monday were again big spending days with online sales estimates at around $7 billion. Bargains were everywhere and many companies have been aggressively advertising to get your business, and will continue to do so this entire holiday season.
This means that the thieves are also busy during this shopping spree with false online advertisements, phishing emails, text messages, and possibly phony phone calls. Whether you choose to go to a store or shop online, here are some tips for safe shopping:
1. Avoid public and free Wi-Fi. Cyber-crooks use public Wi-Fi to access unsecured devices that connect to these Internet hotspots and get your information. Cyber-criminals are known to setup their own fake Wi-Fi in the vicinity of public Wi-Fi.
2. If a deal appears too good to be true, it probably is fake. You may see a deal on a website, on Facebook or other social media, and even from friends, this doesn’t mean it is legitimate. Think before you click and contact the business.
3. Pay with a credit card. Whether you are shopping in a store or online try to use the same credit card. This will help you monitor your spending in addition to the consumer protection offered by the credit card.
4. Beware of emails. Phishing emails will be on the rise. The emails may appear to be from stores, your bank, delivery service, a friend or family. If there is a link, HOVER OVER the link to view the destination website. Even if the website appears to be good but you are still worried, call the sender to further verify.
5. Practice safety. Money is the motivating force for criminals. The holiday spending season is an easy target and even more attractive to the cyber-criminal who is also looking for your information to sell. Secure all your devices with a password, PIN or biometrics. Install an end-point security app to prevent malware threats.
Awareness is your best tool to prevent any attempt to steal your information. This holiday season, please stay aware and be safe.