Cybersecurity Tips for Holiday Shopping

December 8, 2020

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For most of us, the holiday season is about friends, family, food—and shopping! Black Friday and Cyber Monday fall just after Thanksgiving in the U.S., but internationally, they are two of the busiest shopping days of the year. Unfortunately, while you’re looking for holiday deals, the bad guys are looking for ways to scam you any way they can.

Follow these tips to stay safe this holiday season:

  • Keep your smartphone, computer, and other devices updated. This helps ensure that your device has the latest security patches. 
  • Only use trusted Wi-Fi connections and be suspicious of any network that does not require a password to connect.
  • Take the time to change any outdated or simple passwords. Use strong, unique passwords on all of your accounts. 
  • Be careful not to overshare on social media. Consider anything you post to be public information. 
  • Keep an eye on the activity in your banking and credit card accounts. Also, be sure to monitor your credit report on a regular basis.
  • Be suspicious of emails you receive about online purchases. Check the status of your order directly on the website that you purchased from.
  • If you receive a holiday greeting card in your inbox, verify the sender before clicking the link to view the card.
  • If you’re traveling for the holidays, be sure to keep your devices stored safely at all times. 
  • Pay close attention to the websites that you order from. Only shop on websites that you know and trust.
  • Watch out for giveaways and contests. Remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

If you plan to shop from the comfort of your home this year instead of heading out in-person to be the first in line for those door buster deals, make sure your home computer has the latest antivirus software updated. This will help protect you from hackers and identity thieves.

Once you’re ready to shop, make sure you:

  • Take time to compare products. To get the best deal, compare products. Do research online, check product comparison sites, and read online reviews.
  • Check out the seller. Confirm that the seller is legit. Look for reviews about their reputation and customer service, and be sure you can contact the seller if you have a dispute.
  • Look for coupon codes. Search the store’s name with terms like “coupons,” “discounts,” or “free shipping.”
  • Pay by credit card. Paying by credit card gives you added protections. Never mail cash or wire money to online sellers. If the seller asks you to pay this way, it could be a scam.
  • Use secure checkout. Before you enter your credit card information online, check that the website address starts with “https.” The “s” stands for secure. If you don’t see the “s,” don’t enter your information.
  • Keep records of online transactions until you get the goods, confirm you got what you ordered, and that you’re satisfied you won’t have to return the item.
  • If you spot a fraud while shopping online this holiday season, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov.

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