Written By: Judy Leary
Ah, Cyber Monday. No lines, no waiting, no fighting over the last Frozen DVD for a lucky niece or nephew.
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of Cyber Monday. Apparently, I’m not the only one: deal hunters spent $2.29 billion in 2013. That’s a 15% increase from 2012, and with all those shiny new iPhones with bigger screens (better to see those deals with) this year, I have no doubt that the number of online shoppers is only going to increase in 2014.
As the president of IdentityForce, it is my job to remind people that unfortunately, holiday shoppers won’t be the only “hunters” surfing the Internet on December 1. The increase in online spending is the perfect opportunity for scammers to gather credit card data from unsuspecting bargainers.
Here’s how you can protect yourself throughout the online holiday shopping season:
- Avoid making purchases over a wireless connection in a public space. Shared connections allow hackers to access your computer (or tablet or phone), and lure you to fake sites where they can gather your credit information.
- Password protect your home network connection, or better yet, plug into the network. Wireless connections are inherently less secure than ethernet connections, for the same reasons noted above.
- Be cautious about links provided in emails. You’ll see plenty of deals come through your inbox, and it will be tempting to just click on the links to get the deal. Experts recommend pasting the link into a new browser window, or navigating directly to the site to find the coupon or deal. Hackers can manipulate emails links to look safe when they’re actually designed to take a user to a fraudulent page.
- Lock down your social networks. The more of your interests that you make public, the more information a scammer could potentially use to target you with fake offers that you’ll be tempted to accept.
- Dedicate one of your credit cards to all of your online purchases. That way, if your information is compromised, it’s only one account.
While it is really important to remember that thieves and scammers may be more active over the holidays, don’t forget that they’re searching for vulnerabilities on the Internet all year long. Always remember to keep your passwords unique, and limit the number of people you share personal information with. Remain diligent over your credit reports, and monitor your credit card bills for unusual purchases. By keeping these tips in mind, if your information is compromised, you can take the necessary steps to stop the bad guys before they do too much damage.
December 1 is almost here! With these tips, I hope you’re getting ready to sit back in your coziest pajamas with a great cup of coffee to shop away from the comforts of your home, and personal computer.