As you are getting ready to take advantage of great online deals, here are a few tips to keep your shopping experience free from cyberattack.
Use a unique and strong password. Reusing passwords on multiple sites makes you vulnerable. Create a separate password for each online shopping site, one that you don’t use anywhere else. Ensure it does not include your birthdate, anniversary, date or any other information you might have posted on a social media site.
Avoid imposters and scams. Limit online shopping to merchants that you know already or that also have brick-and-mortar locations. Only go to websites by directly typing the URL in the address bar, don’t follow links. A couple other handy tips:
Don’t respond to unsolicited text message offers or coupons.
Avoid random pop-up windows. If a message pops up promising you discounts or gift cards in exchange for personal information or responses to survey questions, do not engage. Close it by exiting out of your browser window if possible. (Clicking the “x” in the corner can launch additional prompts.)
Look for signs of security before you make a purchase. Before you submit your online transaction, make sure that the webpage address begins with “https.” The “s” stands for secure, and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted. Look, also, for other signs of security, like a padlock icon in your browser window and seals from trusted organizations like the Better Business Bureau. It's also a good idea to make sure your browser is kept up to date
Secure your home WiFi and don’t make purchases while on public WiFi. Cybercriminals can snoop on unprotected WiFi networks and steal your data. Be sure to adequately secure your home network (if you're not sure how to do it, check out these tips). Only make purchases on WiFi networks that you know are secure (free in-store WiFi networks don't qualify). If you must shop on the go, use your mobile data connection rather than a public network. (You can find more tips about WiFi use on our blog.)
Reserve one credit card for online purchases. This will enable you to more easily monitor your transactions and protect bank accounts. Don’t use debit cards for online purchases.