Cybercrime: Tips for Holiday Shoppers
The holidays are fast approaching and there are lots of promotions and holiday vouchers flying around. It is a busy time for e-commerce vendors, customers and scammers. While it is good and convenient to shop for your holiday needs online, you have to be careful so you do not fall victim to cybercriminals who plan to take advantage of the holidays to perpetrate their craft. A simple mistake and you could lose an irretrievable amount of money, details and even your identity. To avoid that, here are a few pointers that could help you stay safe while shopping online:
- Use familiar Websites: this is not foolproof but it will go a long way in ensuring your credit/debit information is not in the wrong hands. Shopping on familiar sites is safer than clicking on random pop up sites and filling out personal information such as email addresses, full names and sometimes passwords. Identity theft is on the increase; don’t be a statistic.
- Do not, I repeat, do not store credit card or other sensitive information on your account. This is one the of easiest ways to lose money online. When they ask “save password” or “remember password”, always exit, click “no” or close the page. In as much as it is quite convenient to have your password stored, it is more convenient to not be a victim of cyber scam. It is safer to enter your financial details for every transaction.
- Do you have Paypal, or similar payment methods? Use it! Some of these payment methods are acceptable in over 100 countries, on almost all major e-commerce platforms and have better security than your average e-commerce site and app. This will minimize the risk of exposure.
- “12345” that would just not work. Don’t use predictable passwords. Luckily, many sites request for complex passwords and this may be useful. However, a combination of symbols, numbers and alphabets is necessary in securing and safeguarding your information. Even where it is not a requirement on the website, don’t hesitate to create a safer password with these combinations.
- Do not email your financial information to anyone or open random links sent to you via mails. Majority of cybercriminals get their victims through random links promising some goodies or the other. Always remember that Santa’s gifts are under the tree and not in your mailbox.
- Where possible, keep a different debit/credit card dedicated to online purchases. This card could have only enough funds for your next purchase, that way, you are not unduly exposed in cases where your credit card details are compromised.
- Avoid shopping on public wifi. Someone might be scanning the network’s activities and collecting your information. Even where it is a familiar network, such as a hotel’s network, entering your financial information may be very risky as the network may be run by a cybercriminal whose network is named after “trusted” entity. Best approach is to assume that ALL public networks are unsafe. Do not share you financial information on them. https://www.cisecurity.org/blog/4-steps-to-stay-safe-while-shopping-online/
The holidays are here, time for gifts and fun. The “Association of Holiday Shoppers” are very quick to spot those extremely expensive products that go for ridiculously cheap prices and yes, ready to jump on it.
But wait! Not so fast. Take a look at some of the tips highlighted above and have a beautiful scam free holiday!