The holiday season brings joy, celebration, and, unfortunately, an increase in online shopping scams.
As we revel in the convenience of e-commerce, it’s crucial to be aware and take proactive steps to protect ourselves from fake websites. This blog post will explore practical tips and strategies to ensure a safe and secure online shopping experience during the festive season.
- Shop from Trusted Websites: Start your online shopping journey by sticking to reputable and well-known websites. Established e-commerce platforms have robust security measures in place, reducing the risk of falling victim to scams. It is VERY tempting to buy from those very alluring Facebook or Instagram posts, but before you click the BUY button…do some research.
- Verify Website Security: Before entering any personal or financial information, ensure that the website is secure. Look for “https://” in the URL and a padlock icon in the address bar. This indicates that the website encrypts your data, making it more challenging for cybercriminals to intercept. You can also try entering the name of the website you want to make a purchase on into Google, then type SCAM to see if any article shows up regarding that website.
- Use Strong, Unique Passwords: Create strong and unique passwords for each online account. Avoid using easily guessable information such as birthdays or common words. A combination of letters, numbers, and symbols will enhance the security of your accounts.
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Wherever possible, enable two-factor authentication for an extra layer of security. This typically involves receiving a code on your mobile device that you’ll need to enter in addition to your password.
- Beware of Phishing Emails and Messages: Cybercriminals often use phishing emails or messages to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information. Be cautious of unexpected emails or messages, especially those containing urgent requests or unfamiliar links. Verify the legitimacy of the communication by contacting the company directly. This time of year, you may get Amazon or UPS delivery emails; the best way to know for sure this is a legit email is to sign into your account that you made purchases from via your Web browser (Chrome, Safari, etc) check the delivery status there.
- Check Seller Reviews: If you’re purchasing from a lesser-known online store, check for customer reviews. Real experiences shared by other shoppers can provide valuable insights into the credibility and reliability of the seller. Read the comments in the social media ads, too; people will tell you if this is a shady site.
- Monitor Your Financial Statements: Regularly monitor your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions. The sooner you identify and report suspicious activity, the quicker you can take action to minimize potential damage.
- Update Your Devices and Software: Ensure that your computer, smartphone, and any other devices you use for online shopping are running the latest software and security updates. This helps protect against known vulnerabilities that scammers may exploit.
- Educate Yourself About Common Scams: Stay informed about common online shopping scams, such as fake websites, counterfeit products, or misleading advertisements. Knowledge is a powerful tool in avoiding potential pitfalls.
- Trust Your Instincts: If a deal seems too good to be true…it usually is, trust your instincts and proceed cautiously. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and plenty of legitimate options are available.
Following these tips can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to online shopping scams during the holiday season. Stay vigilant, be proactive, and focus on enjoying the festive season without worrying about cyber threats.
Happy and secure shopping!