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  • Writer's pictureTara Grey

5 Ways to Stay Safe While Shopping Online for the Holidays

The holiday shopping season is already underway according to all the retailer sales and promotions that began flooding email inboxes as soon as Halloween was over.

Due to COVID-19 still being around and surging in many states, it’s projected that there will be a higher percentage of online shopping this November and December than there was last year.

eCommerce holiday retail sales are projected to grow 25% to 35% as shoppers forgo the crowded malls and use computers and mobile devices for holiday gift buying this year instead.

But one thing that the pandemic hasn’t curtailed has been online cybercrime. It has actually flourished this year, taking advantage of the disruption in everyone’s home and work lives.

New Jersey residents that are using their technology devices to shop online this year, need to be extra vigilant to watch out for scams, phishing emails, and malware laden websites.

Take These Precautions When Doing Online Holiday Shopping

The consequences of being scammed while shopping online can be very costly. Criminals will try every trick in the book to get their hands on your credit card details, bank account information, or other personal data.

Malware is also prevalent, and can let a hacker into your system to find all your account passwords or scramble every file you have.

You can stay safe while shopping online by following these basic safety tips.

Beware of Phishing Scams

There are many common phishing scams that go around during the holidays.

These include things like:

  • Fake shipping notices that look like they’re from UPS, USPS, or FedEx

  • Fake order notices that mimic Amazon, Target, or other retailers

  • Charity scams that try to get you to give to a non-existent “charity”

  • Sale offers for ridiculously low prices that are from a store you don’t recognize

Here’s an example of how good these fakes can look:

When you click on a phishing link, one of two things generally happens:

  1. You can be directed to a malicious site that automatically downloads malware onto your device.

  2. You’re presented with a fake sign-in form in an attempt to steal your login.

It’s a good idea, especially during the holiday season, to never click a link in an email and instead visit the site directly. For example, if you have a pending order and receive a tracking notification, rather than clicking the link to track your order, go to the retailer or shipper’s site directly to check the status.

Only Shop on Sites You Know & That Have HTTPS

There are a lot of look-alike sites that pop up during the holidays that look like they might be legitimate by using a name that’s close to that of another retailer.

It’s best to only shop at retailers that you know and trust and not to be lured into shopping an unknown retailer by a seemingly “great deal.”

Additionally, you want to make sure any website you shop has a web address that starts with https:// (not http://) That “S” stands for security and it means that if you input your credit card details on the site, they’ll be encrypted. You can also tell if HTTPS is being used by a lock icon that shows to the right of the URL in the address bar at the top of the browser.

Use a DNS Filter on Your Device

A DNS filter is an application that checks the safety of webpages before directing your browser to the page.

From your end, the web browsing experience is the same if you’re going to a legitimate website. But if you accidentally click a link to a malicious or dangerous website, instead of allowing your browser to load the page, the DNS filter will send you to a warning page instead. This lets you know the site is not safe to visit.

Use PayPal, Apple Pay, or a Prepaid Payment Card if Possible

There is always a danger when giving out your credit card details while shopping online that they’ll be stolen. Even trustworthy retailers that take precautions can suffer data breaches.

You can reduce the risk of your credit or debit card details being stolen when shopping online by using either a prepaid payment card or a site like PayPal that does not give your card number to the retailer.

If you use Apple Pay, you can also use it for shopping online via Safari. It works similar to PayPal in that your card details are not shared with the merchant.

Don’t Shop Online While on Public Wi-Fi

If you’re on a free public Wi-Fi, you never want to enter any sensitive information online, such as a password or your credit card number. Hackers can hang out on public Wi-Fi and spy on the sessions of others using the same connection.

If you’re away from home and on a mobile device and want to make an online purchase, switch off Wi-Fi and use your mobile carrier’s connection to ensure your data is secure.

Sign Up for an Online Holiday Shopping Safety Primer with CompuTara

Don’t leave online safety to chance! I can give you a private online holiday safety tutoring session and ensure you’ve got the web protection in place that you need to shop online with peace of mind.

For the best online security, CompuTara recommends MalwareBytes for your computer!

Schedule your tutoring session today! Call me at: 862-368-4893 or Email me here.


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