In today’s digital era, online shopping is more popular than ever. According to a recent study, 2.14 billion people online shopped in the last year. With the holidays right around the corner, online shopping is only going to increase.

While online shopping is convenient and often saves you time and money, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and how to protect yourself from scams. We’ve compiled 6 tips to ensure your online holiday shopping is a safe endeavor.

1. Avoid Connecting to Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi is one of the most common places for hackers to gain access to personal information. They do this by setting up fake Wi-Fi networks that look extremely similar and convincing. Once you’ve connected to these networks hackers are able to track everything you’re doing online and can even access your laptop’s keystrokes, mic, and camera and eventually gain access to all your personal information.  

If you must shop online while connected to public Wi-Fi, make sure you are using a VPN (a virtual private network). A VPN is a more secure option as it will encrypt your connection and prevent hackers from being able to see what you’re doing or accessing your personal information.

2. Make Your Purchases With a Secure Credit Card

When making online purchases, it’s always best to use a credit card. Credit card transactions are typically more easily traced online than if you use debit, money orders or checks making them the more secure option. 

This is because credit cards offer more protection than debit cards. For example, if you make a purchase with a debit card and it turns out to be a fraudulent charge, the money will be taken directly out of your bank account.

With a credit card, on the other hand, you can dispute fraudulent charges and you’re not liable for them. Additionally, many credit cards offer purchase protection, which means you may be reimbursed for any items that are damaged or never arrive.

3. Research the Company Before Your Purchase

Before making a purchase from a new online retailer, take some time to research the company. You can do this by reading online reviews or checking with the Better Business Bureau.

Red flags to look out for online shopping sites:

  • No contact information
  • Poorly written website
  • Typos and grammar mistakes
  • Bad reviews on social media

4. Be Aware of Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are one of the most common ways that hackers try to gain access to personal information. These scams typically come in the form of emails or text messages that look like they’re from a legitimate company. A common scam during the holiday season is cyber criminals using large retailers like Amazon and Walmart and sending you fake holiday tracking, or click here to redeem your gift card.  This can be sent as a phishing email or a smishing text message. 

Understanding when you might be a victim of a phishing scam and how to prevent it is key to online shopping safety.

5. Avoid the “Too Good to Be True” Sites

When an online deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers will often create fake websites that look like legitimate online stores. They do this in order to get people to enter their personal information, such as their credit card number or social security number.

Check out our blog on how to identify if a website is trustworthy and if you should make a purchase.

6. Maintain Your Software & Set to Automatic Updates

One of the best online shopping safety tips is to keep your software up-to-date. This includes your operating system, web browser, and any plugins or add-ons you’re using.

Outdated software is one of the most common ways that hackers gain access to personal information. This is because outdated software often has security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. By keeping your software up-to-date, you’ll make it nearly impossible for hackers to gain access to your personal information.

Throttlenet Wants You To Stay Safe This Holiday Season

In addition to following the online shopping safety tips above, consider partnering with a managed cybersecurity provider like Throttlenet. We can help you secure your devices and networks against cyber threats in order to keep your holiday shopping safe and seamless. Start here by booking your network risk assessment. Happy holidays and happy shopping!

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