Black Friday has come and gone, but today is another big shopping holiday – Cyber Monday. And, with it comes a host of dangers as millions of people will shop online using a credit or debit card without hesitation. With so many recent security breaches – Target, Home Depot, and more, how secure are you?
Whether it’s Cyber Monday or any other day of the year, don’t let the ease of online shopping keep you from being cyber-security smart. Here are several important online shopping safety to protect yourself.
1. Don’t use public computers and unsecured wireless connections. Public LANs and Wi-Fi networks could be compromised with malware and hackers could be tapping into them to get your personal information.
2. Use well-known credible retailers and always make purchases over a secure and password-protected WiFi network. Make sure the URL says HTTPS, and look for the small padlock icon in the address bar when you get to the payment steps. Both of those will indicate that you are shopping on a secure site.
3. Be vigilant about how and where you are typing in your personal data online. Consider using a payment system such as PayPal. If the company you purchased from gets compromised, your information will be safe because you used PayPal and hackers won’t have access to your sensitive data.
4. Make sure your security software is up to date and you have a firewall installed on your computer.
5. Don’t trust all those emails. The best thing to do go to a new webpage and typing in link. It is only clicking links from direct e-mail sources that can get you in trouble.
6. Never use the same password across your accounts or sites and update passwords frequently. Use at least eight characters and a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
7. Always monitor your bank account for unusual activity. Check those monthly statements line by line for small, questionable charges, usually under $20.
8. Use the latest brand named browser available for your system, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Internet Explorer, to prevent adware, spyware, and phishing attempts.
9. Use your credit card, not your debit card. Debit cards are directly linked to your bank account. Never save your credit card information online in case you get hacked.
10. Take action immediately if you suspect identity theft. Contact your credit card company, your bank, all three credit reporting agencies and the police.
Bottom line – Cyber Monday is a great time to take advantage of deals. Just remember to rely on your common sense and these tips to stay safe and secure for a positive and successful online shopping experience.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.