The holiday gift buying season is here, and many of you are already trolling the Black Friday ads and planning your shopping lists. More and more people are eschewing the middle of the night shopping sprees and opting for the shop-in-your-PJs event known as Cyber Monday.
Online shopping has quickly overtaken visits to brick and mortar stores for many reasons. It takes less time, you can have items delivered right to your home, and you can find unique gifts online that may not be available in local stores.
Whatever your reason for online shopping, the holiday season is also a time then fraudsters and scam artists are looking for easy prey. So here are some tips from Life Lock on how to protect yourself when shopping online.
Shop at websites you trust
Tempted to buy those Harry Potter socks you saw on that Facebook ad? It might be a legitimate business. Or might be a scam artist trying to collect your credit card info. So limit your online shopping to websites you trust.
Check out the business
If you are thinking about making a purchase from an online store you’ve never used before, use your sleuthing skills to make sure the store is legitimate. Look for online reviews through independent sources (not just on the company website), check with the BBB, and check out the company address to see if it’s legit.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
This is good practice, not only during the holiday season. Do not access your bank information or put in credit card information on a website while using public Wi-Fi. It is possible for hackers to intercept information sent over unprotected Wi-Fi and get access to your personal information.
Watch out for email scams
Avoid emails from unknown senders and never click links unless you trust the website and the sender. Pay attention to the links. Sometimes fraudsters will send links that look very similar to links from a legitimate company, but are slightly off – like a “.net” instead of “.com” or a slight alternation in the url. They are hoping you won’t notice and will use the link to make a purchase, which puts your personal info jeopardy.
Pay with a credit card
Paying with a credit card offers some protections that you may not get with a debit card. For instance, if someone intercepts your credit card info and tries to use it, you can alert the credit card company and they will immediately flag the charge and credit you your money back. Most credit card companies offer $0 liability on fraudulent charges.