As the holiday season approaches, many are readying their credit cards for the inevitable holiday purchases they’ll be making. This makes it a particularly exiciting time for hackers and scammers, as they prey on unsuspecting shoppers. With the rise of cybercrime during the fall and winter months, it’s important to make sure your identity and bank accounts do not become compromised.
Be on the lookout for some of the common ways hackers will try to gain personal information.
Package tracking scams. These phishing attacks are emails sent after a purchase with a fake link to track your package. Once the link is clicked, malicious software could accidentally be downloaded to your computer, compromising it.
Discount shopping app. During this time the app store on your device becomes inundated with shopping apps advertising huge discounts on in-demand products that are hard to come by. Once the app is downloaded credit card information can be skimmed or malware can be pushed onto your phone or tablet. A good rule of thumb to follow is if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Stolen shopping carts. Many shoppers tend to leave items in their online shopping carts for days at a time, however this could lead to hackers coming in and stealing credit card information.
Donation emails. These phishing emails are emotional messages sent out asking for donations or linking to malicious websites spoofing as charities.
How to Protect Yourself:
Use different passwords for all shopping platforms. Setting up different passwords while shopping will reduce the risk of one compromised account quickly spreading to others.
Make sure the website you’re shopping on is secure. Look for a little padlock symbol next to the web address, which signifies that the site is using a secure connection.
Don’t shop on public wi-fi networks. Unless you’re using a VPN (virtual private network), hackers can go through public networks and steal usernames, passwords and credit card numbers. Be wary when using public wi-fi, such as in coffee shops or retail stores, and should you go on them stay away from online retailers or bank sites.
Ensure your anti-virus software is up to date. This may seem intuitive, but with the rise of sophisticated technology, it’s important to always install updates prior to the holiday shopping season.
Keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements. Don’t wait until your bank statements come at the end of the month. Being vigilant will allow you to dispute any suspicious charges as soon as possible.