How Hackers Take Advantage of the Holiday Season: Online Shopping Tips

Category: Data Security
Author: Mandy Remke

Many of us are wrapping up our holiday shopping for 2020. As it has been a wild year to say the least, remember to be aware of safe cyber security practices during holiday shopping. Many cyber criminals will take advantage of the increased online shopping habits of people during the holiday season, and people are especially vulnerable this year with more online shopping than ever before. It has been a record-breaking year for e-commerce sites. The more time and money you spend via e-commerce, the more access hackers have to your sensitive data like credit card and bank information to personal information like shipping and billing addresses.

7 Tips for Safest Online Shopping, During The Holidays (And Year-Round!)

Protect yourself from scammers and breaches through the rest of the 2020 holiday season. Turn these into habits going forward when holiday shopping and every time that you make purchases online.

 

1. Beware of Holiday Scams

People tend to be more generous during the holiday season. While any acts of charity are great and beneficial to so many in-need, unfortunately scammers will take advantage of increased generosity around the holidays. Beware of emails and websites that are asking for charitable donations or services that you have not signed up for or requested. Often, scammers will send out legitimate looking charity organization emails that include malicious links or are just a way to scam you out of money. Be sure to research the organization you are going to help.

 

2. Use Reliable Websites

Make sure that the websites you are shopping on are secure sites and are the legitimate brand or company that you are wanting to shop. Use websites of retailers that you know and trust. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is, especially if it is not from a reputable retailer.

 

3. Do Not Utilize Auto-Save

While the auto-save feature for credit cards and shipping information is convenient, never auto save card numbers or personal information onto your computer or browser. It is better to re-enter your information when making purchases then to have a bank information stolen.

 

4. Never Give Out Personal Information

Do not provide your personal or financial information over a phone whether in a call, text, email etc. Do not give out personal information to an unsolicited source.

 

5. Connect to Secured Wi-Fi

Public or open WiFi sources are a hacker’s playground. Sensitive data is easily accessed when you are not connected to secure WiFi. Hackers especially take advantage of people who are trying to get last minute orders in, anywhere they can.

 

6. Watch Out for Phishing Scams

Confirmation emails and text messages are often used as scams. Scammers will send emails and text messages that appear to be a confirmation of an order or tracking information from a delivery service. These are often malicious links. Look into the sender information to make sure it is from a reputable source before opening emails and messages. Match the email or phone number from the company website, or if you have placed previous orders, you can match it to those as well.

 

7. Check Bank and Credit Card Statements Often

Make sure that charges line up with ones that you have actually made through reputable sources. Check often so that you do not miss any irregularities. Report discrepancies to your financial institution or credit card company immediately.

Add SMS-Phishing to ThreatAdvice Educate!

These tips are helpful guidelines for the holiday season, but you should follow them year round for the safest online shopping experience. Turn these into your every day cybersecurity habits to be less vulnerable to a breach. It is much better to implement these simple actions into your daily life than to have to recover from loss of sensitive information. More helpful information to staying cyber safe when shopping online is provided here by the Federal Trade Commission.

December 22, 2020
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