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Trusted Tips for Online Holiday Shopping Safety in 2020

Couple holiday shopping online safely with these tips.
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The holiday cheer has started early this year, with many Americans looking to find some joy in the midst of this global pandemic. COVID-19 has moved many aspects of our life online, including the way we shop.

Traditionally, the start of the holiday season is synonymous with deals, including the infamous “Black Friday” rush the day after Thanksgiving.  This year, many stores like Walmart aren’t even opening their traditional brick and mortar stores on Thanksgiving. Thanks to the pandemic, many consumers — estimated to be about 60 percent by Salesforce Inc. — are changing the way they shop for goods and services. Here, we will discuss some tips for online holiday shopping safety in 2020.

As COVID-19 continues to shift the needs of the consumers, retailers are forced to adapt if they want to remain profitable. 2020 was the first year Inc’s Prime Day held its two-day sale in October instead of July. By moving Prime Day closer to the holidays, Digital Commerce 360 analysis estimates that Amazon sales hit about $10.40 billion globally, more than the $7.16 billion during the 48-hour event in July 2019. Retailers are quickly shifting to an online shopping model, trying to cash in on many consumers’ desire to buy holiday gifts early this year. Many have run pre-Black Friday deals or simply started Black Friday deals online earlier.

Unfortunately, many hackers are looking to take advantage of daily activities moving online. The FBI heads a Cyber Division responsible for investigating cyber-crimes. Before the pandemic, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), received about 1,000 cybersecurity complaints each day. After the pandemic, IC3 now receives about 3,000 to 4,000 cybersecurity complaints each day.

Luckily, there are many ways to protect your identity, and your wallet, from falling victims to these hackers and their schemes. At Southern Careers Institute, powered by Woz U, our experts in cybersecurity have developed a list of tips for online holiday shopping safety in 2020. Knowledge is perhaps the most valuable resource and our cybersecurity team focuses on these trends and have developed an entire Cyber Security program at Southern Careers Institute, powered by Woz U. It’s our hope that by creating more awareness of the fraud patterns we study, it will lessen your exposure to fraud so you can enjoy what really matters.

Beware Of Phishing

One of the best tips for online holiday shopping safety in 2020 is to beware of phishing. In a phishing scam, you might receive an official-looking email from a trusted retailer or shipping company. The email asks you to click on a link to verify personal information. An example reported frequently is one that appears to be from UPS or FedEx, claiming you must update your information to secure a holiday package ordered online. So, you click the link. It takes you to a website appearing to be legitimate. The site may ask you to verify your username and password, or maybe even your credit card or banking numbers. These are fake websites and are only used to steal your usernames, passwords, banking information, or whatever information they can get!

How To Protect Yourself?

  • Don’t click. If you receive an unsolicited email or text message, don’t click on it. Companies will not ask you for your username or password through emails. You can call the company to verify whether the email or text sent was legitimate. Be sure to research the phone number on the company’s website, the phone number on the email or text is most likely also a scam.
  • Examine the email address or URL carefully. Scammers will use a slight variance to trick your eyes at first glance and gain your trust.

Social Media

Perhaps you post a picture on social media, #holidayready. You tag your mom, your brother, even your dog.

Scammers pay special attention to information shared publicly. So one of the best tips for online holiday shopping in 2020 is to be smart on social media. By sharing things like your pet’s name, your location, and birthdays, the scammer has all the information they need to guess your passwords or your security questions. And surprisingly, most people only have one password for all of their accounts.

How To Protect Yourself?

  • Check your privacy settings. It’s worth being private about locations and other details that can help hackers guess passwords. It is also worth checking security settings to see who is allowed access to view your posts.
  • Opt for two-factor authentication. Many companies allow a two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication on accounts. At first, it might seem annoying, but consider not disabling. This way if someone does figure out your password, you can still stop the hacker from accessing your account.
  • Use complex passwords. Most companies now require users to use more complex passwords. By adding special characters and capital letters, a hacker’s ability to guess the password decreases.
  • Use Passphrases. Unlike a password, a passphrase is a sentence with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Passphrases are multiple words put together to make a sentence. This makes it easier for the user to remember without writing the passphrase down, yet complex enough to make it difficult to guess. 
  • Different accounts, different passwords or passphrases. If a hacker guesses one account correctly, they will try to access more of your accounts using the same password. Therefore, it is prudent to use different passwords or passphrases for different accounts so a hacker doesn’t have access to everything if they hack into one account.
  • Change passwords regularly.

Shop Trusted Sites

You would be skeptical about handing over your credit card to a random person on the street promising to sell you something. Similarly, when you shop online, only shop at sites you trust. Once you hand over your credit card or banking information, you want to trust that the merchant will handle that information responsibly. 

Also, one of the smartest tips for online holiday shopping safety in 2020 is to keep your computer up-to-date. 

How To Protect Yourself?

  • Update regularly. Computer operating systems are updated periodically to push new technology requirements into the system. It’s important to make sure your computer has the latest protection.
  • Install Spyware Protection. Spyware is software that’s installed into your computer, without your knowledge, and collects information about you without your consent. Spyware protection can help prevent that.
  • Shop only at trusted shops. A trusted site usually uses a secure connection. When a site uses a secure connection it encrypts the information being sent to and from the website and makes it harder for hackers to steal information. Usually, secure connections use https instead of http. 
  • Keep your firewall turned on. A firewall will help protect against hackers who will try to steal passwords or other sensitive information.

As we enter the 2020 holiday season, there is no dispute that it will look different from any other we’ve experienced. By implementing these small steps to our online holiday shopping, we can focus on the joy the season is supposed to bring.

This article was published on: 11/24/20 12:01 PM

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