How times have changed. I can remember when Christmas didn’t start until after Thanksgiving—not before Halloween as we see things in stores and online now. Seems like the holiday season and decorations start earlier and earlier every year.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is that Black Friday is still a big shopping day. And with the advent of online shopping has emerged Cyber Monday (the first Monday after Thanksgiving) which is another big sale day for online shoppers. In fact, a recent McAfee study revealed that 70% of American’s plan to shop online this holiday season. And nearly half (48%) of us will be shopping online on Cyber Monday.
Although many of us may take advantage of these great deals that the holidays offer, we also need to be aware of the risks. Online shopping is a fun and convenient way to make purchases, locate hard-to-ﬁnd items, and discover bargains, but we need to take steps to protect ourselves.
To stay safe this holiday season while shopping online:
Check the site’s web address—Once you arrive at a site, you need to make sure that it is legitimate and not a fake site. So check the URL and make sure you really are at www.amazon.com and not www.amazan.com even though they make look alike.
Check that the site is secure—The McAfee survey revealed that 20% of Americans cannot ever tell if a site is secure. Some things to look for on a secure site include:
Check to make sure that the web address starts with https instead of http, which indicates that encryption is being to protect your information.
Look for lock symbol on the page which is another indication that the site is using encryption.
Look for a security seal, such as the McAfee SECURE™ trustmark, indicating that the site has been scanned and veriﬁed as secure by a trusted third party. This security seal indicates that the site will help protect you from identity theft, credit card fraud, spam, and other malicious threats..
Pay with a credit card—Credit cards on the whole offer better protection against fraud than debit cards. You won’t be liable for fraudulent purchases and the thieves won’t be able to drain your bank account if they get your account #. Most banks now offer virtual or one time use credit cards numbers. You can go to your bank’s online site and enter your credit card number and it will give you a number that you can use for a specific purchase. Any use of that one-time credit card number will be automatically flagged or not approved by your bank.
Do not use a public computer or free wireless connection to shop online—If you are using a public computer, strangers may be able to access your browsing history and even your login information. To protect yourself, do all of your online shopping from your home computer or your personal mobile device. Never shop using an unsecured wireless connection (like those free Wi-Fi hotspots at coffee shops) because hackers can access your information.
Make sure you have a clean computer or mobile device—Make sure you have up-to-date security software on all your devices, like McAfee All Access, that can safeguard your privacy, protect against identity theft, and defend against viruses and online threats.
Keep a paper trail—Keep a copy of your order number and receipt, and note which credit card you used. When you receive your credit card statement, review it to make sure that the charge placed on your card is correct and that there are no extra fees or charges.
By following some of these simple tips, you can enjoy all the advantages that online shopping has to offer and prevent risking your personal information.
I hope you have a safe, enjoyable holiday shopping season.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! (Disclosures)
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