Millions of shoppers will take to the internet on Cyber Monday to get the best deals on their holiday shopping.
Scammers and hackers are also going to be on the prowl, hunting for vulnerable consumers too busy to secure their devices, shop with care or check their bank accounts.
Here are several tips from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to follow for a safer experience on online marketplaces:
Update and password protect devices
Having updated and secured internet devices — computers, cellphones, tablets — can lessen the risk of it being attacked by cyber criminals.
Enabling automatic updates allows users to have the most current software version and latest manufacturer patches that shield weak spots.
Check the device’s privacy and security settings to understand how its data is stored and shared.
Consider also using a password manager to create complex and multiple passwords for device and shopping accounts.
Know where and how to shop online
Connect your devices through secure and private Wi-Fi when doing shopping or banking.
Don’t shop on just any website; scammers build malicious webpages that appear legit so double check unknown sites.
Before providing personal financial information with them, make sure to browse with known and established vendors.
When buying online, check that purchasing information is being encrypted.
A common sign a website is using a secure socket layer (SSL) to encrypt data is when the website’s URL or address begins with “https:” instead of “http:” and a closed padlock icon.
Be wary of those promotional emails. While some could be actual deals from retailers, others might be phony phishing emails that have malicious links.
Also, never provide passwords or personal and financial information in response to unwanted emails; legitimate businesses won’t ask.
Some phishing emails might ask to confirm purchasing or account information.
To report a suspicious email, visit www.us-cert.gov/report-phishing.
Don’t click or download unknown links and attachments; instead, type the URL of the retailer in question into the web browser to make sure its offer is real.
Pay with credit cards, manage bank accounts
If possible, use a credit card to pay online instead of a debit card.
This also applies when using payment gateways, like PayPal, Google Wallet or Apple Pay.
Laws limit a consumer’s liability for fraudulent card charges on credit cards, but those protections aren’t always the same for debit cards.
Charges with debit cards also draw money directly from bank accounts, leaving people with insufficient funds to pay bills.
With numerous transactions happening over the holidays, it’s important to regularly check card and bank statements for fraudulent charges, which should be reported to the bank and/or local law enforcement agency.
For more information on cyber security, visit cisa.gov.