Everyone is on the hunt for online deals and coupons as we prepare for gift giving during the holiday season. Every year, shoppers are spending more during the holidays – especially on national retail sale dates like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday (also known as Black Friday 2.0)—and online spending continues to climb. This year, online shoppers spent a whopping $81.5 billion online from November 1st to December 2nd, 2019, according to Adobe Analytics data. Shoppers are also breaking Cyber Monday records year after year, and 2019 was no exception. This year, sales reached an all-time high of $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday 2019, that’s $1.5 billion more compared to Cyber Monday 2018.
Do you know what else increases every year around this same time? Data breaches and identity crimes. The distraction of the holidays makes it the perfect time for cybercriminals to steal your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and sell it on the Dark Web. Fraudster also benefit by taking advantage of shoppers hunting for deals, creating fake retail websites and sending fraudulent emails with phishing links to collect personal and financial information. They are also ramping up credit card fraud to make their own purchases using your hard-earned money, and potentially damaging your credit.
Stay protected this holiday season and beyond, with our holiday countdown of the best 12 Tips for Safe Online Shopping.
12 Tips for Safe Online Shopping
- Beware of Seasonal Surveys | You’ve probably seen these before on social media. “Take this survey to find out which reindeer you are,” or something similar. Once you click on the link you need to answer a set of questions that often expose information regularly used to answer online security questions or authenticate your identity. Steer clear of these thinly veiled attempts to capture your personal details! For a quiz that doesn’t require you to enter any personal information, and helps you identify what more you can do to prevent criminals from stealing your identity, take our Identity Theft Quiz.
- Avoid Stolen Packages | Although this happens offline, you will have placed the order online. If a hacker is monitoring your online activity, they can track shipments to your home and steal them when they arrive. You can prevent this by having packages delivered to your office, an Amazon Locker, or a pickup location provided by the carrier.
- Be Smart About App Downloads | Be cautious about what you are downloading and pay attention to details. Scammers take advantage of those signing up for subscriptions by luring them into a short-lived free trial that then converts into an expensive, recurring expense. Only use shopping apps downloaded from official sources. Also, make sure you are carefully reading what the app can access. For instance, do you reallyneed to give a shopping app access to your list of contacts? Probably not.
- Protect Children’s Online Identities | While children will be eager to play on their new gaming consoles, help your child stay safe while gaming by reviewing the rules and set up the system with them prior to them playing. It’s important to create a strong password that includes upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Remind them to avoid oversharing when online.
- Avoid Return Fraud | Remember to take receipts out of your shopping bags when you are returning items. Personal information on those receipts helps thieves piece together details to steal your identity.
- Educate Teens on Safe Online Shopping | Teens will be shopping online this year to buy holiday gifts for friends and family. It’s a great time to encourage teenagers to get a head start on protecting themselves from identity theft. Tell them how to protect their bank accounts by managing passwords and using anti-virus software or internet security software. Share our Holiday Shopping Online Safety Toolkit for more best practices.
- Update All Software | We are all guilty of not updating our software when we should. However, don’t do this with your anti-virus software — especially before you embark on an online shopping spree, as this software can help to prevent hackers from getting into your accounts. All it takes is a single vulnerability in an outdated piece of software for a cybercriminal to gain access to your computer. Worried? The IdentityForce mobile app now monitors and alerts user to a wide variety of threats through Mobile Attack Control. It’s free with every membership.
- Ignore Strange Emails | Many companies send holiday shopping and promotional emails throughout the holiday season. Some hackers try to capitalize on this and catch victims through phishing scams. Don’t fall for scams promising unrealistically deep discounts or free merchandise. You know what they say — if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
- Watch Credit Card Statements | Keep a close eye on your credit card statements for any activity that looks suspicious. If you do find anything suspicious, report it immediately. Sign up for alerts and notifications for all your charges.
- Keep Devices Locked | An unlocked device can easily expose your personal info to hackers. Keep your devices locked with a password or biometric option.
- Shop Safely from Any Device | Whether shopping on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, make sure you are connected to a secure network. Public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe. Even better, sign up for identity theft protection and get the power of mobile cybersecurity built into the IdentityForce app.
- Download Security Apps | Consider downloading security apps to further enhance your safety when shopping online during the holidays. These make shopping apps on your phones and tablets much safer. And remember our tips to avoid shopping scams as you pull out those credit cards this holiday season.
To best protect yourself and your family this holiday season, give the gift of identity theft protection. IdentityForce is always here to help monitor your identity and credit while providing you with the latest news and information in identity theft protection.