Online scammers pose a threat year-round; however, they lurk on the Internet more often during the holiday season. With more shoppers switching to online shopping, it is essential to protect your online security. Online scams come in many packages. Some are obvious, like strange-looking sites with multiple pop-ups, or fake e-mail scams asking to donate to an unknown charity. Others can be more deceiving. Here are some online protection tips to keep your identity and banking information safe this holiday shopping season:
* Receiving e-mails from trusted stores because you signed up for their e-mail is perfectly fine, however, watch out for any e-mail that directs you to an outside website through a hyperlink. These hyperlinks generally direct you to a website created by a hacker to obtain your personal information. Instead of clicking on the hyperlink directly, type the URL into a search engine to determine its legitimacy.
* Online shopping is becoming the preferred way to buy holiday gifts for many consumers. When shopping online it is important to check if the site is secured. A secured site will begin with, “https” versus a non-secured site which begins solely with, “http.” Many people use shared Wi-Fi hotspots at the mall or a coffee shop to connect to the Internet and complete their holiday shopping. Unsecured hotspots give hackers easily accessible targets. Try to do your holiday shopping on a secured, password protected network.
* In addition to online shopping, social media has launched onto the scene and many consumers are following their favorite brands’ social media platforms in hopes to find a great deal. This is a great tactic, but be weary of new friend requests or strangers sending links to unbeatable holiday specials. These are generally hackers lurking to get you to click-through to their website and enter your information.
* Holiday shoppers online and in-store are using debit or credit cards to make their purchases. Some hackers have created e-mails that resemble the layouts of popular banks worldwide warning consumers to update their account information during the holidays. Any e-mail from an outside bank you can immediately disregard, however, if you receive a strange e-mail from your actual bank it is best to call and inquire.
* Websites like eBay or any other site where individuals can buy and sell items have systems in place to weed out the “take your money and run” sellers. However, it is important for you to check the seller’s history, ratings and feedback others have provided to determine if they are trustworthy.
Use these online protection tips this holiday season and throughout the year for maintain your online security.