It’s easy for people to get conned during the holidays. All it takes is being attracted by the wrong online sale or mistaking a phishing email for a tracking notice for your latest Amazon order.
In a survey of U.S. consumers, 24% of them reported being a victim of fraud or identity theft during the holidays. It’s a time when phishing increases dramatically, and online shopping sites seem to go up overnight as everyone is trying to get a piece of the holiday spending pie.
Being more secure online doesn’t only help individuals avoid personal identity theft and viruses, it can also protect company IT security. This is because a majority of employees admit that they shop online while at work.
Before you initiate your next online shopping session, be sure to read the tips below to help you have a safer holiday season.
(For employers: You may want to share these with your team!)
Don’t Allow Sites to Store Your Debit/Credit Card Details
Large retailers like Target and Macys have been hit in the past by hackers, exposing customer records that were stored in databases. It’s best not to allow sites to store your payment card details.
You can safely remove them from websites that save them automatically as soon as you complete checkout. It will not impact your order because your card has already been charged or authorized.
While it may be a little more time-consuming to put your payment details in again if you’re ordering on a site more than once, it’s going to keep your data more secure.
Never Do Online Shopping When on Public Wi-Fi Without a VPN
Even buying one item on an online shopping site while on public Wi-Fi can allow a hacker access to your credit card number and possibly the password to the site you just used.
Public Wi-Fi is just that, “public.” Hackers can sit on public Wi-Fi and use special software to spy on the activity of other users. This is why you never want to enter any sensitive data into a site while connected to free Wi-Fi.
You can secure your connection by enabling a VPN, which will encrypt your traffic. You can also switch off Wi-Fi and use your mobile carrier’s signal while entering any sensitive information and then switch back.
Don’t Fall for Facebook Sales Scams
This time of year, you’ll most likely see a lot of product ads showing up in your Facebook feed. These are extremely well targeted (people say Facebook knows us better than our own family) so you may be more apt to click on them and make an impulse buy.
While some of these ads might go to legitimate sites, many of them go to fly-by-night online shops hastily put together to make money. They may or may not ship the item you purchased, and if they do, it might look nothing like what you thought you were ordering.
It’s best to only shop websites that you are familiar with or have researched thoroughly online by looking at independent reviews.
Only Shop Sites with HTTPS
The use of HTTPS at the beginning of a website URL indicates that the site is secure and uses encryption to protect data you enter into forms or shopping carts.
You never want to shop a website that only uses HTTP, because your data would not be protected and could easily be stolen by a hacker.
Most legitimate shopping carts require the use of HTTPS before they can even be set up, however, you may see a site try to get around this from time to time. Always look for the HTTPS with the accompanying lock icon.
Install a DNS Filter to Block Phishing Sites
Phishing scams run rampant during the holiday season, and it’s easy to accidentally click the wrong email and end up on a phishing site. These sites often spoof popular retailers, so you think you’re in the right place and don’t realize you’re not unless you carefully examine the URL.
Use a DNS filter to help you avoid accidentally landing on a phishing site. DNS filters review URLs before directing your browser and will redirect you to a warning page if a phishing site is detected.
Don’t Use Email Links to Check Orders or Tracking
It’s very easy to mistake a fake FedEx tracking notice for a real one this time of year. Scammers will also fake Amazon order receipts, making you think you were mistakenly charged for something you never bought, and enticing you to click a link to resolve the “issue.”
This time of year, especially, never use the link in an email to check on package tracking or orders. Instead, go to the website directly and look up your order to check delivery information.
Retailer websites make this very easy these days and getting into this habit can help you stay safer this time of year.
Get Help to Phishing-Proof Your Network & PC
Texas I.T. Pros can help your Denton or Wise County business put automated protections in place that keep phishing emails at bay and prevent accidental visits to phishing websites.
Contact us today to learn more! Call 940-239-6500 or reach out online.