Black Friday and Cyber Monday Security Tips
- Don’t use public WiFi: Try to avoid public WiFi networks when you’re taking advantage of all the great holiday sales available online. Public WiFi is wonderful for looking up general information, but if you’re accessing your bank account or entering sensitive information like a credit card number or password, then it’s much safer to do so over a private connection.
- Follow these rules on your mobile device, too: Many people aren’t waiting to start their holiday shopping on Black Friday anymore. In fact, consumers have started to use “Mobile Thursday” as a jumping off point, when they online shop over their mobile devices on Thanksgiving day. Just make sure to follow the same security guidelines you do on a desktop computer, and squeeze in some time for food and family.
- Ignore links: Don’t click on popup ads or spammy emails that promise amazing deals. Clicking on one of these suspect sites could compromise your security and personal information. Simply click the “x” button that’s usually on a top corner of the screen, or delete the email without opening it.
- Look for secure URLs: If a URL address begins with “https,” then it is likely to be more secure than a site that starts with simply an “http.” The “s” stands for “secure,” and is a good sign to look out for.
- Search for URL changes: Also keep an eye on the URL when you first enter a site. If the URL changes when you enter the payment screen, then you might want to double check that you’re using a reliable source. Cyber-criminals sometimes establish fraudulent sites to solicit personal information from customers.
- Shop on known websites: Only enter your card and personal information on websites that are established, well-reputed and that you’ve used before. If you have any doubts about a site’s integrity, then it’s probably better not to take the risk.
- Talk to your kids: If you have kids who are old enough to shop online, make sure to have a conversation with them about web safety. Let them know what information is sensitive and can be used to commit identity theft. Teach them safe habits like checking their bank account statement frequently.
- Update anti-virus software: Before you start your online shopping spree, it’s a good idea to update your anti-virus software. According to Norton’s 2013 cyber-crime report, consumer cyber-crime cost the U.S. $113 billion. In this case, any defense is definitely better than no defense.
- Use cash or a credit card: When holiday shopping, it’s best to use either cash or a credit card instead of a debit card. This is because it’s much easier to recoup losses if fraud is committed on your credit card.
Enjoy the holiday season and amazing sales, and stay safe and secure while doing so! If you’re concerned about your information, you may want to consider enrolling in a credit monitoring service for some added peace of mind. It can alert you to certain activities that may indicate theft.