How to Shop Safely Online for the Holidays

How to Shop Safely Online for the Holidays

Online shopping offers the thrill of finding great deals from the comfort of your couch.  Here’s how to shop safely online for the holidays and keep cybercriminals from spoiling the fun!

Before You Shop

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommends that you check your devices before you shop:

  • Make sure the device you’re using to shop online has all current software updates.
  • Take a look at your accounts and make sure each one has a strong and unique password.
  • Use multi-factor authentication everywhere it’s available.

Stay alert to phishing emails and texts that may be designed to look like an authentic message from a well-known brand.  Don’t click on any links or attachments in unsolicited emails or texts. If you receive an unsolicited email or text from a business but want to learn more, open a browser, search for the business, and visit that website directly.

While You’re Shopping

Choose trusted retailers or sellers. Think about how you’re searching online. How are you finding the deals? Are you clicking on links in emails or ensuring you’re on the correct vendor’s website? Are you clicking on ads on webpages? You wouldn’t go into a store with boarded up windows and without signage – the same rules apply online. If it looks suspicious, something’s probably not right. This applies to gift card purchases, too.

Choose shopping apps wisely.  Be aware that some mobile shopping apps could be a scam, and other legitimate shopping apps may collect a lot of personal information. Look for apps that tell you what they do with your data and how they keep it secure. Keep in mind that there may be no legal limit on your liability with money stored in a shopping app or on a gift card. Unless otherwise stated in the terms of service, you may be responsible for all charges made through your shopping app.

Make sure your information is being encrypted.  All reputable merchants use encryption to transmit information from your browser to their servers. Look in your browser’s location bar to make sure the website address begins with “https:” instead of “http:”. Also look at the padlock icon. If the padlock is locked, your information is encrypted.

Don’t overshare.  Never provide your password, or personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited email. Legitimate businesses will not email you asking for this information.

Use a credit card rather than a debit card if you can.  There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, but you may not have the same level of protection for your debit cards. Additionally, because a debit card draws money directly from your bank account, unauthorized charges could leave you with insufficient funds to pay other bills. Also use a credit card when using a payment gateway such as PayPal, Google Wallet, or Apple Pay.

After Your Purchase

Check your online statements.  Be sure to check your credit card and bank statements for any fraudulent charges frequently.  Notify your bank or financial institution immediately if you see any discrepancies.

Most of these steps are probably second nature for you already.  Shop safely online for the holidays and have a joyous season!

If you’d like to know more about how CRU Solutions can help keep your business safer, contact us.