Due to convenience and public health uncertainty, most people are doing the brunt of their Christmas shopping from the comfort of their own homes. While online shopping is a great alternative to in-person shopping, it can be dangerous. With 54% of Americans preferring to shop online, it is important to be educated about the potential risk one faces while enjoying digital retail therapy.
Identity Theft. One of the most common risks is identity theft. Cybercriminals work continuously to get access to your personal information and use it to make their own purchases. One of the ways this is done is by phishing. Phishing emails can resemble messages from your bank or something similar, and they will ask you for your account information to “fix a problem.” You may also see this in the form of prize-winner emails or text messages which ask for your personal information to access your winnings.
Credit Card Fraud. Another huge risk that you face when online shopping is credit card fraud. If you aren’t vigilant, you can be intercepted before you are set to pay and redirected to another site. This site will look strikingly similar to the company’s official website, and so victims will enter their payment information without a second thought. However, that information is then stolen and exploited.
Adware and Malware. Being bombarded with advertisements can become overwhelming and some of them may appeal to you. However, you should be cautious about clicking on some of these ads. They may be scams that have you enter personal details and lead to great loss.
Protecting Yourself While Online Shopping
Most everything these days can be done by pushing a few buttons on your phone, so giving up on online shopping altogether is an unrealistic expectation. Instead, take measures to protect yourself from falling victim to traps. Carnegie Mellon University published an article in which they share a few different practices you should implement in your life to stay safe from these online threats.
Protect Personal Data. You should not be sending any sensitive or pertinent information via email. Similarly, there is never a circumstance in which online shopping should require you to submit your Social Security number. A great rule of thumb is to check that the website begins with “https” before you enter any information. This is a signifier that the website is secure.
Buy From Trusted Sources. Purchasing from social media ads or online boutiques can be dangerous. Make sure you are purchasing from a trusted vendor. If possible, try to stick with online retailers that you have already done business with. Online reviews from other customers can help you determine the trustworthiness of stores as well.
Shop With a Credit Card. A great tip is to do most of your online shopping with a credit card. If a credit card were to become compromised, your personal funds would not be affected. Instead, you could see the fraudulent charge and report it. On the other hand, if a debit card were to be hacked, your bank account would automatically take an irreparable hit.
Set Up Account Alerts. Both debit and credit accounts offer to send out alerts that let you know when a large purchase has been made with your card. Turning on the alerts paired with checking your bank account frequently should guarantee that you catch any suspicious activity before too much harm can be done.
Protect your holiday season by safeguarding yourself and your assets.
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