Over the past two months, fraud has been detected on my credit card not once, but twice. I do not know exactly how my card was accessed fraudulently on either occasion, but I do know that my online shopping habits are a strong contender to be held at fault. The reality is, the security risks associated with online shopping continue to grow every year.
Just around the corner lies one of the most popular online shopping days of the year, Cyber Monday. An opportunity to shop discounts, deals, and perks, all from the comfort of your couch. During the past week, my inbox has been taunting me with email offers that will allow me to easily check gifts off of my holiday shopping list. Plus, you can avoid the unbelievable physical safety risks that now exist with in-store shopping on Black Friday.
I get it – online shopping is convenient and so simple! But if there was ever a time to beef up your knowledge on shopping safely online, this is it folks. After two recent run-ins with credit card fraud, I now know that one of the best gifts you can give yourself this year is to make sure your banking and credit card information stays safe.
From one online shopping fan to another, here are five of my favorite tips to help you combat cybercriminals on Cyber Monday.
1. Monitor your credit card and bank statement when making purchases online. This was how I caught my recent credit card fraud, from a simple review of recent charges. If you notice any charges that don’t match your purchases, immediately contact your bank or credit card company.
2. Limit your online shopping to established vendors. Spend your well-earned money in the places it is at least risk for fraud, with trusted, established online retailers. Pro Tip: Before shopping, bookmark the websites of these established vendors so that you are sure you are not being redirected to a false website by cybercriminals.
3. Make your purchases from a secure computer. Stay away from making purchases while connected to WiFi networks available in coffee shops, airports, and hotels, which cannot be trusted to be secure. Pro Tip: Always look for the lock symbol in your browser bar when making a purchase.
4. When you can, shop from an app. When shopping on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet and an online retailer gives you the option to shop on a browser or app, always choose the app. Retailers have much more control over the security of their app than a browser.
5. Install an anti-malware product on your computer. Cybercriminals want to lure you into an unsafe online shopping environment with misleading ads that take you to a malicious website of their choice. By installing anti-malware protection on your computer you reduce your risk of falling prey to these false ads.
I’m always looking to learn more about keeping myself safe online from peers and professionals – leave me a comment below with your favorite tips for secure online shopping!