Did you know that shopping online increases your risk of falling victim to scams and fraud, even identity theft?
If you’re like the majority of Americans, you’ve been doing much more shopping online during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic because of the accompanying store closures and social distancing rules in place at many of the nation’s retailers. Coronavirus scams are also increasing at a rapid pace, and fraudsters are taking full advantage of this massive shift towards online shopping and what’s known as “card not present” payments, where they can bypass possession of a physical card to commit fraud online if they can just get their hands on your account number.
Unfortunately, phishing sites and trojan shopping carts can quickly ruin your online shopping buzz and put those credit card details right in the laps of scammers, especially if they end up for sale on the dark web. But don’t despair! We’ve identified seven ways to keep your personal and financial information (your PII) protected while practicing safe online shopping.
7 Tips for Safe Online Shopping
- Create a different, strong password for every retailer and service you have an online account with. That way, if your password is exposed in a data breach, you will be less likely to become a victim to account takeover fraud through credential stuffing attacks.
- Avoid buying common goods from unknown sellers. A hacker may set up a website designed to look like a legitimate seller, but with no plans to ship you any goods you may buy. This type of fraud is especially rampant through COVID-19 scams, especially with so many retail shortages of household cleaning and paper products. Before purchasing from any seller, Google their legitimacy and check the Better Business Bureau for any scam reports. Duplicate favorable reviews found on different sites are a red flag of false product promises.
- Choose safe payment methods. Your credit card offers greater protection over a debit card, especially if you need to dispute fraudulent charges, and will safeguard your bank account from unauthorized withdrawals. Avoid using a check or money order if you can, or your money may disappear with little to no recourse if you’ve made the transaction with a crook.
- Only purchase from resellers with very positive feedback. Resellers with negative reviews or no reviews are a red flag they are a scammer.
- Watch out for unsecured websites. Look for the padlock symbol followed by “https” and the known URL, and be cautious of secure-looking sites which are actually fake websites, often by swapping numbers for letters, misspelling names, or adding additional words or characters to known website addresses.
- Avoid stolen packages. With the increase in home deliveries, this is happening more frequently and thieves are getting more creative — including stories about women dressing up as nurses and stealing packages from front porches. 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 an Amazon Locker, or a pickup location provided by the carrier.
- Back your data up regularly and keep software updated. If your devices are hacked, you’ll have all your data, especially if the hacker is holding your files hostage with ransomware and demanding payment for the “key” to retrieve your files. Ensure your computer and smartphone are fully protected with software updates, mobile security software, and keep all apps updated.
Don’t Leave Your Identity Unprotected
The key tasks to help protect yourself and your family from identity theft when shopping online comprise of increasing awareness of phishing and other cyber scams, keeping your devices properly protected with a strong password and updated software, and making sure all credit card activity has been authorized by you.
Even still, nobody can completely defend against identity theft, which is why you need a protection plan in place. Trust the best identity theft protection services on the market from IdentityForce and get started with your own Free Trial today.
Check out our Safe Online Shopping Tip Sheet for these tips, plus several others, that you can print and share with your friends and colleagues. The more people following safe online shopping practices the better, especially as online spending continues to climb!