Cyber Monday is expected to be the largest online shopping day in history. According to ADI’s 2016 “Holiday Prediction” Cyber Monday will hit $3.36 billion in sales, up more than 9% over last year.
Furthermore, according to NordVPN, for the first time, online shopping has outweighed shopping in stores this year: people are now making 51% of their shopping online, compared to 48% in 2015.
Trouble is, all the buzz hasn’t bypassed hackers. They’re ready to make a killing off of shoppers spaced out with all the merriment. They have a plethora of tricks to blindside you if you’re not on you’re a-game. Here’s how ensure your holiday is happy rather than horrendous.
Monitor for Grinches
Cyber thieves are increasingly targeting victims at the point of transaction, meaning access to a physical card is no longer necessary to commit fraud, says TransUnion vice president Heather Battison. “Pay close attention to credit card statements and monitor for any unrecognizable charges.”
Use secure websites
Before providing any personal or payment information to an online retailer, look for a URL that begins with “https” not “http” and the emblem of a lock on the page, typically next to the address bar to ensure a secure connection, says Battison.
Be wary of the unfamiliar
Know who you’re dealing with. “Quick research gives you insight into how they conduct business and how trustworthy they are. Again, online shopping is not like the pushing and shoving that goes on in stores. Take your time and gain confidence in the retailer that you’re buying from,” says Ron Schlecht, Jr., of BTB Security.
Avoid clicking on links delivered to your email from unfamiliar websites. “It could be a phishing scheme, where shoppers who access the link are led to a false site developed to steal that data,” warns Tim Francis, enterprise cyber lead for Travelers. Don’t fall for the trap – the can’t-pass-up deal. “If it seems too good to be true, it is just that.” Also a red flag should go up if you’re asked for information that is not typically asked, such as your Social Security number. There’s another clue that perhaps you’re dealing with an illegit outfit. Thieves know all too well which sites are popular, so they’ll set a trap by creating easily misspelled domains to for their benefit. “Trying to visit Ammazon or maybe BlarnesandNoble.com? Hackers will establish sites with misspelled domains to trick you into giving them your password or making a fake order. Check the URL bar,” says Nick Santora, who runs the team at Curricula, a cyber security education company.
Stay home for the holidays
When shopping online, don’t use unsecure networks. “It’s best to ensure you are on a secure home or business network before surfing the net,” says Francis.
Trim your tree with security
A security app is more than a pretty ornament, it’s critical for online shopping. “Investing in a security app is an important step in ensuring that your online shopping is done safely,” says Francis.
Use a Virtual Private Networks to encrypt all the data you share across the internet on any website. They are a good defense for cyber crooks on the hunt for your confidential info.
Also, muscle up your passwords. Don’t go for something easy for you to recall, like your last name and 123 or abc. It’s easy for you, and easier still for folks who mean you no good. Change your passwords. Use two-factor authentication on every website and internet account if available, advises Lee Munson, security researcher at Comparitech.com.
Look for reviews. If the site doesn’t have any reviews, it is probably fake. Established retail sites will have customers, don’t be the first one.
Use your cards wisely
“Do not use debit cards. They may be convenient, but if you pay a scammer with a debit card, then realize what happened, you may never get your money back, as it is gone at the moment of purchase,” warns Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com. Instead, use credit cards. If you pay a scammer with a credit card, you can dispute the charge when it appears on the card. The credit card company will work with you and usually will reverse the charges. See if your credit card issues a one-time use credit card number for a specific purchase. “This way, if the purchase is to a scammer, they can’t use the one-time number for anything else.”