Cyber Monday retail sales are expected to reach $3.45 billion this year. In fact, the 2017 holiday online shopping season is shaping up to be the biggest yet. While businesses look forward to record sales, and shoppers hunt for the best deals, cyber criminals are gearing up for a busy hacking season. Did you know phishing links increase 336% around Thanksgiving?
Don’t wait until hackers have your credit card information to take action, protect yourself before you start shopping with these tips:
Update your security software. Before you shop, take the time to beef up your computer’s security. You should utilize firewall and antivirus software, and make sure all available security patches have been installed.
Avoid bogus retail apps. Hackers are creating fake apps and hosting them on the App Store and Google Play. These bogus apps could steal your credit card and personal information, or install spyware on your phone. Before downloading check user reviews.
Beware of email scams and phishing links. Hackers send mass emails with fake advertisements and when users click the attached URLs, they are sent to phishing sites, which go up as much as 336% around Thanksgiving.
Avoid deals that are too good to be true. Don’t click on any of the “crazy deals” that you see on social media. Just like email scams, most of the deals that look too good to be true, usually are. Scammers often use Twitter and Facebook to spread malicious links, in fact, 30 million malicious tweets are sent daily.
Stick to familiar websites. While looking for the best deals, avoid shopping on unfamiliar websites. Criminals create fake websites that look legitimate with URLs that are very similar to popular sites and if you enter your credit card information into one of these sites, it could easily be stolen.
Look for the green lock. If you find a great deal on an unfamiliar website, look for the green lock on your browser and do some research about the site before purchasing anything. For extra security, use a two-step authentication process whenever possible.
Use a digital wallet. If the retailer offers the option, always use digital wallets like PayPal and Apple Pay to prevent malicious websites from receiving your credit card information. If using a digital wallet is not an option, use a credit card instead of a debit card and keep an eye on your bank statements after the holidays to look out for fraud.