Keep Your Holiday Online Shopping Secure
Posted on November 23, 2020
Topic Categories: Consumer Help
By Coach Fin
Black Friday blowouts and Cyber Monday mega deals are nearly here. Some online bargains are already underway. Cyber Monday 2019 marked historic online sales. American shoppers spent more than 9.4 billion dollars online that day.
In this age of COVID-19, online shopping has become as routine as a weekly grocery run. It’s likely many of us will play it safe by doing much of our holiday shopping online. Whether we’ll break last year’s record remains to be seen. Either way, stay sharp and keep your eye out for fraudsters. As online shopping increases, so do the scams, warns the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
Here are some things to watch out for — and ways you can keep your online shopping secure.
Watch out for bogus websites
Who hasn’t been enticed by an ad on social media or a search engine shopping page? The problem is, some ads promote bargain prices, then link to fraudulent websites that look legitimate. The fake sites are convincing because they often copy real product information from reputable sites. The order and payment process might be as smooth as any other online retailer. But…your order never arrives.
Here are some warning signs:
- If an advertised price is far below everyone else’s, that’s a clue the deal might be too good to be true.
- If the web address ends in “.club” or “.top” that’s a red flag. Those have been popular with fraudsters. Be wary of sites that don’t end in “.com” or “.net.”
- If quick research shows the web address was registered in the last six months, it could be a bogus site.
Check the Better Business Bureau’s scam tracker to stay on top of common scams or search for the business by name in their online directory. You can also check the WhoIs Internet Directory to see who owns a website.
Stick to your trusted sites
Instead of searching for a product or service from your search engine, start at your trusted sources. Comparison shop directly from each site, where you’re more likely to be in safe hands.
Think “s” for secure
Make sure the web address you’re shopping on begins with “https” not just “http”. The “s” on the end lets you know the site has secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption to help keep your transaction secure. Don’t see the “s”? Buy elsewhere to keep your credit card information secure.
Beware of what you share
We’re so used to sharing personal information online it’s second nature to enter your email address or phone number. Don’t let a cybercriminal catch you on autopilot or you might realize you’ve shared your social security number or birth date after it’s too late. Be wary of sharing those personal details online; it’s a fast path to identify theft.
Opt to shop through mobile apps
One way to shop securely is to use trusted retailer mobile apps, especially if you’re away from home. If you’ve shopped with these apps before, you might have your payment information stored, so you won’t have to worry about cyber snoopers picking up your credit card details from a public hotspot.
Protect yourself from malware, spyware and ransomware
Malware (malicious software) can be used to steal personal information from your computer to aid identity theft or access your financial accounts. Spyware tracks your online habits; some capture your keystrokes in hopes of getting your passwords.
Ransomware is the latest cybercriminal craze. In this operation, a scammer seizes and encrypts all of your files. They offer to de-encrypt them … for a hefty ransom fee.
The best protection to make sure you have reputable security software and keep it up to date.
Use your digital wallet
You can shop securely in a store, on an app or online with your digital wallet. Authentication, data encryption and monitoring are built into digital wallets to help keep your payment information and identity secure.
How to report a scam
If you become a victim of a scam, report it to the FBI IC3, your local FBI field office or the Federal Trade Commission. It’s also a good idea to alert the Better Business Bureau.
If your Cinfed credit or debit card is lost or stolen, or you suspect it was used in fraudulent activity, contact us right away. Learn more about online account safety.
Cinfed is here to help — online or in person
Cinfed online banking, mobile and text banking and mobile deposits keep your transactions quick, convenient and secure. If you need to meet with a Cinfed employee in a branch, it’s easy to schedule an appointment. Here’s what to expect if you visit in person.