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Shop safer online with these 4 strategies

Shop a bit safer online with some common-sense tips to keep you one step ahead of hackers and identity thieves

(Also check out our podcast episode where we discuss how you can shop a bit safer online with some common-sense tips to keep you one step ahead of hackers and identity thieves) 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just past us. But even after these huge shopping days, thousands of online shoppers—just like you and I—are targets for cybercriminals. They’ve already have their strategies in place to trick victims by stealing their data directly or download malicious software. So how do you keep your identity safe? Here are 4 strategies to improve your safety when shopping online:

  1. Make sure the site is secure
  2. Be careful what you share
  3. Watch out for fake sites or Apps
  4. Never shop on public wi-fi

1) Make sure the site is secure

a.       SSL (Secured Socket Layer) –

  • Ensures that your data is encrypted when you submit your order
  • Look for the padlock or https in the web address bar
  • Some browsers show the web address in red to indicate it’s not secure

b.       Log in securely – use a strong password.

  • Consider using a different password for each site
  • Change your password if it’s been awhile

2)      Be careful what you share

a.       Protect your personal information

b.       Details such as birthday or SSN are rarely needed

c.       Details such as where you work can reveal too much about you through Social Engineering. Where hackers gather info about you from social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn then target you

3)      Watch out for fake sites or Apps

a.       Cybercriminals send emails out with links that look valid, but are not. For example, the link could have the words “amazon.com”, but if you click on it you can get redirected to another completely different site. Instead, type the valid link Amazon.com into your browser to go to it directly.

b.       Make sure you know who the site is – be careful of going to a retailer who you haven’t heard of or done business with before.

c.       Watch out for fake apps. Last year there were hundreds of bogus apps that showed up on Google Play and Apple’s app store. These fake apps may look legitimate but are designed to stead your credit card number and personal information.

  •   Instead, go to the company’s web site to download the official application.
  •   When in your app store, make sure the app has high ratings from many users.
  •   Never be the first to download a new shopping app

4)      Never use public wi-fi to shop

a.       Public wi-fi is not secure—anyone on it can steal the information you transmit. Wait until you get back to a secure network or use your smartphone as a personal hotspot.

b.       Don’t use a public computer either

Following these 4 strategies will help minimize your risk when shopping online. Remember that hackers are always trying to use new methods to steal your identity. Be smart, use common sense and stay one step ahead this holiday season.

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