As the busiest shopping days of the year are upon us, cyber hackers are preying on the naïve and unaware this holiday season. While there are still plenty who opt to do their holiday shopping in-store, more and more shoppers are finding their deals online, shopping from the comfort of home.
There is great convenience in internet shopping. Online marketplaces like Amazon and EBay have perfected the one-stop shop, allowing you to save your credit card information for simple one-click ordering, and sourcing from retailers all over the world to get the lowest prices available.
While these sites are often reputable and have cyber security measures of their own in place, there are still plenty of scams lurking behind the source, leaving you potentially high and dry without your product and – even worse – your financial information compromised.
Scammers take creative approaches to deceive the untrained shopper’s eye. Have you ever noticed the ads on the side of your screen, reminding you of the exact pair of shoes you were considering to purchase just yesterday?
While many of these ads lead back to the true source of the product, cyber criminals have perfected the art of simulating an ad, only for it to lead to a malicious source. This is especially troubling if you allow for cookies to remember your login information on websites that you’ve made financial transactions through.
Online shopping has gained such popularity during the holiday season that those who choose to avoid the droves of in-store bargain hunters on Black Friday can still reap the benefits of a good sale with the click of a mouse. Internet-wide deals flood the websites of major retailers and small businesses alike on Cyber Monday, or the Monday following Thanksgiving.
How to Shop Vigilantly
If you are among the many who go paper-less with your bank and credit statements, remain aware of your internet connection when managing your finances and making purchases.
Whether on a computer or smartphone, be sure that any transactions made are over secure, known networks. According to CBS.com, it isn’t unusual for hackers to create rogue networks similar to that of a nearby business. Monitor your bank account frequently for any unusual charges or suspicious activity.
Be discerning with incoming e-mail. Creating a new folder strictly for holiday sale mail will assist in effectively deciphering authentic offers from the potential phishing advertisements that often mirror the real thing. Offering hard-to-find or sold out products, these false advertisements may be tempting to further investigate, but the old adage should be heeded in this instance – if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Receiving tickets to sports games, concerts, and other live entertainment are ever-popular gift ideas for loved ones, but the use of social media has created security concerns for the ticket holders. If you choose to take a picture with tickets in hand, be sure to cover any visible barcode or other private information printed on the ticket to avoid theft.
If you are purchasing tickets or gift cards, be sure to only buy tickets from trusted vendors. Just as scams are prevalent through social media and e-mail, third party re-sale websites are often hubs for fraudulent sales and unsafe, insecure transactions.
The lines of defense are clear and defined for those willing to take the steps to safety while shopping for that perfect gift. Remain aware of all incoming and outgoing finances, and practice mindful shopping this holiday season to protect yourself, your finances, and your sanity!