6 Critical Tips for Secure Online Shopping This Holiday Season

6 Critical Tips for Secure Online Shopping This Holiday Season

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, people have to be more careful than ever to protect their personal data from begin stolen and their devices from being infected with malware. 

Unfortunately, sometimes the frenzy of the season gets the better of folks, and they fall for phishing emails offering bogus holiday deals or click to purchase from a Facebook ad that shows up from an unknown seller.

73% of people between 18 and 24 admit to not checking the authenticity of emailed or texted “deals” messages. 

Employers must be wary about online shopping as well because it can pose a risk to their cybersecurity. Online shopping during the holidays is the norm in most offices, with approximately 52% of employees admitting they shop online while at work.

Whether you’re worried about your own security when filling your gift list online or want to help your team be better secured when shopping from company devices and networks, we’ve got several tips that can help! 

Stay Safer When Buying Gifts Online 

Remove Your Credit Card Details After You Check Out

You can safely remove your payment card details from a retailer’s site as soon as you finish the checkout process. This will not stop your order from being filled, because your card has already been charged.

Many retailers automatically save your card during checkout (Amazon, Walmart.com, Chewey, etc.), but this is for THEIR convenience, not yours. 

Retailers are getting hacked all the time (Target and Macy’s have been victims over the past few years). It’s best to remove your card details from a retailer’s database so you’re less at risk should they be hit by a data breach.

Shop Sites You Know or Verify First

Millions of fly-by-night websites pop up during the holidays specifically to scam people out of money or steal their personal data. Many of them will often use sound-alike names to real sites to get people to trust them.

Only shop websites that you know or that you have verified first. It’s not hard for a phishing scammer or large online criminal organization to make a professional-looking online shopping site, so you can’t just go by how nice the site looks.

Don’t Shop Online When on Public Wi-Fi

Saving your mobile plan data is not worth having your site passwords or credit card details stolen when you’re on a free Wi-Fi connection. When you’re on public Wi-Fi, a hacker on the same network can use software to spy on your activity.

When you’re away from a secure network and want to log in to a site to check an order or do some shopping online, switch off your Wi-Fi so your connection is through your mobile carrier. Or you can also use a VPN to encrypt your connection and keep your data secure.

Visit Sites Directly to Check Shipping Updates

Fake shipping updates and tracking notices are prevalent during the holiday season. These phishing emails can easily be mistaken for a real FedEx or UPS notice when you already are expecting those notices from orders you’ve placed.

When checking shipping updates, it’s best to go to the carrier’s site or the retailer’s site directly by typing the address in your browser. You can then type in your tracking information to see if the shipping notice is for real. If it’s a fake, then likely the tracking number provided in the phishing email won’t bring up anything.

Don’t Fall for Impulse Buys on Social Media or in Email

Social media ads are flourishing during the holiday shopping season. It can seem like every other post you see is an ad for something that looks like it targets your interests perfectly. That targeting is not by accident, some researchers say Facebook knows us better than our closest friends!

Don’t fall for impulse buys on social media or in sales emails. This will often lead to a completely unknown retailer that you haven’t vetted. They could run a site designed to steal your payment details or it could be one of those low-grade sites from overseas that either never ships your order or ships an item of poor quality that looks nothing like the photo. Do your research before shopping for any deals like this.

Pay Using PayPal or a Wallet App When You Can

You can protect your payment card details by using PayPal, Apple Pay, or a similar “wallet” service when you check out. When you use these instead of giving the site your card details, that’s one less site with access to your credit or debit card.

You also gain additional buyer protections from sites like PayPal that can make it easier to get your money back if the item never ships.

Get Help Securing Your Network from Phishing & Scam Sites

Quantum PC Services can help your Sturgeon Bay home or business put protections in place for your device like DNS filtering and managed antivirus to ensure no holiday scams infect your device and ruin your day!  

Contact us today to learn more! Call 920-256-1214 or reach us online.