Cyber Monday is here and time to get lured by tempting deals online. Before you succumb to the sugar-coated deals, here are 12 safety tips from ESET, a leader in cyber security solutions. These tips will come handy even when you are shopping online any day.
Tips for safe online shopping
- Make sure your bank has an up-to-date telephone number for you: this will allow them to get in touch rapidly if they notice suspicious transactions. This can help both to speed through genuine transactions – and to stop criminals in their tracks if your card number is being misused.
- Be ultra-cautious of ‘bargains’ and social-media offers around iPhones, Samsung phones, games consoles and iPads on Cyber Monday. The UK organization Get Safe Online says that these are the items most commonly involved in fraudulent sales or auctions, along with fashion items such as Ugg boots.
- Buy items using credit cards, not debit cards – credit cards usually offer protection against fraud, whereas many debit cards do not.
- Where possible, ensure that your cards are enrolled in schemes such as Verified by Visa or Mastercard SecureCode, which offer an additional layer of protection when buying online.
- Check delivery and returns policies where you can – one of the most common frauds during the holiday season is to deliver fake or faulty goods, and then refuse to refund the money.
- Shop on PC with anti-malware protection if you can – but if you are using mobile, use security software. Last year saw mobile sales leap to around 20% of holiday-season shopping, according to a We Live Security report – and rise 187% year-on-year according to GigaOM. Good Mobile AV software will alert you if you’re being directed to a bogus site.
- If you are using a PC to buy, spring clean before you shop – update your browser, plug-ins, OS, and flush with good AV software.
- The browser bar is your friend: check the spelling of any site you’re shopping from, and check to see that there’s a ‘lock’ symbol and HTTPS to show you’re secure when you’re about to buy. If it’s not there, leave.
- Auction sites are rife with fraud on Cyber Monday– and be extra wary around expensive items. Always choose a payment method approved by the site and covered by their insurance – and never pay direct to the seller.
- Don’t click on a link your friend sends you, or you see shared on Facebook – no matter how good the bargain is. That’s just asking to be sent to a fake site. Instead, go in via the front page, and find the item from there – if it is a sale item the retailer is pushing, it will be easy to find anyway.
- Don’t overshare. Many frauds rely on you handing over information, thinking you’re making a purchase – then the fraudster uses your information to drain funds from your account. If you’re asked for ‘extra’ info, such as a social security number, or phone number, be wary.
- If a bargain appears on a store you’ve never heard of, step back and use a search engine to find reviews of the store, and see how long it’s been around for. If information seems to be lacking, don’t buy.