7 Best Practices for Secure Online Shopping During the Holidays

November and December are the months when online holiday shopping ramps up. This year is expected to be even bigger than past years due to the pandemic.

Online shopping over the 2020 holiday season is expected to increase 33% compared to last year. This will result in approximately $189 billion in sales. However, you can also expect an increase in identity theft, phishing attacks and other threats related to online shopping. 

In 2019, online purchase fraud jumped by 29%.

Scammers often take advantage of online shoppers during this time of year with fake sales, bogus tracking emails and scams designed to steal credit card details. People are often distracted due to the flurry and excitement of the season which can cause them to drop their guard.

Just one wrong click can end up in a ransomware infection, credit card fraud or the need to look for Connecticut computer repair to remove malware. 

We have put together some savvy online shopping tips to help you avoid scams and stay safe when browsing those holiday sales:

Research Sites Before You Shop

It is best to only shop on sites that you know are legitimate to help avoid any unsavory retailers out there who are just trying to get your credit card number or sell substandard knockoffs. 

If you really want to buy a unique gift from a retailer that you have not purchased from before, you will want to research them thoroughly. This also goes for retailers on large shopping platforms like Amazon and Etsy. 

Use sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and review websites like Trustpilot to research a website before you buy so you know what you are getting into.

Use a Mobile Anti-Malware App

Most people know to have anti-malware on their computer but do you have it on your smartphone or tablet? 68% of holiday shopping traffic in 2019 was via mobile devices.

It is easy to get fooled by a malicious app that looks like it offers great Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. It could also be planting spyware on your device. 

Protect yourself by using a reliable mobile anti-malware application for device protection.

Don’t Shop Online When On Free Public Wi-Fi

It is smart to avoid shopping online and putting any sensitive information into a form (like your credit card number) when you are connected to a public Wi-Fi. Hackers often hang out on these free hotspots and can use software to spy on the unencrypted traffic of others using the same network.

If you are not at home or work and want to do some online shopping, you have two options to secure your connection:

  • Click your Wi-Fi off in your phone’s settings so your connection switches to your mobile carrier.
  • Use a VPN that will encrypt your connection when on an unsecure Wi-Fi.

Delete Payment Details from Sites After Checkout

It can be convenient to store your payment card details with a retailer you use often. However, it can also leave your information at risk of being stolen in a breach.

Large brands like Target, Dunkin’ Donuts and Macy’s have all experienced data breaches in recent years in which sensitive information was stolen.

Your best bet is to get into the habit of immediately deleting your payment method out of an online shopping site right after checkout. This will not stop the transaction from going through because it goes through when you click the purchase link. Once the purchase has been completed, you can safely delete your payment information. Some sites even give you an option to save the card to your account or to just type it in each time that you use your account for a purchase. This will save you a few extra clicks.

Use Payment Methods That Hide Your Card Details

A way to protect yourself from an unsavory retailer gaining access to your card details is to use an alternate payment method that does not expose your personal card information.

These include:

  • PayPal
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Samsung Pay
  • Prepaid debit card

Use a DNS Filter

Phishing scammers will often send fake sale emails during this time of year that look too good to be true.

You can protect yourself from accidentally clicking on a known phishing site by using a DNS filter on your device. The DNS filter will block any malicious sites that it detects before loading them in your browser and redirect you to a warning page instead.

Look for the Lock Icon and HTTPS

Never shop on a website that only uses “HTTP://” in the address. This indicates that the site traffic is not secure.

Only shop sites that have a lock icon directly to the left of the URL in the browser and that have addresses that begin with “HTTPS://”. This is an indicator that the site traffic (including any credit card details you send through a form) is properly encrypted.

Secure Your Devices with Help from Sound Computers

Are your mobile devices and computers properly protected with DNS filtering and anti-malware? We can help you ensure that you have the safeguards in place to make holiday shopping less of a risk. 

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 860-577-8060 or reach us online.

December 16, 2020
Sound Computers Admin