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5 Ways To Keep Cyber Criminals At Bay This Holiday

cyber criminals holiday online shopping

The holidays are a magical time. Snow covered trees, festive lights decorating houses, time with family, parties . . . and an incredible increase in cybercrime and cyber criminals.

Didn’t see that one coming did you?

The cyber criminals think and hope so too.

While people hit the web to shop for holiday gifts, deals and plane tickets to visit loved ones, hackers are doing their best to steal your data and use it for their own purposes.

In the spirit of giving, check out these 5 quick tips to keep cyber criminals and hackers at bay during the holiday!

5 quick tips to keep cyber criminals and hackers at bay during the holiday

1. Make sure that you do your shopping at secure websites

Any time you are purchasing something online you want to make sure you are doing so from a secure website. A secure website will encrypt your information. The means that only the authorized parties (the seller) receives that information and it can’t fall into the hands of hackers or criminals.

You can tell if a website is secure by looking at the URL. If the URL begins with https:// that means it is secure. Specifically you are looking for the S after the http portion. You may also see a lock symbol. Make sure that you never enter information into a website without this. Look out for locks with warning symbols like question marks or red lines – this signals that the site is only partially encrypted and you should never trust it. Buy your stuff somewhere else.

cyber criminals http vs https

2. Use Credit Cards instead of Debit Cards online – and probably in general where possible

There are so many different ways scammers attack your data. Think back to the big breaches of the last few years – Target, Home Depot etc. Your data can get stolen both online and at brick and mortar locations.

The most secure thing – aside from cash which obviously cannot be used for shopping online – is to shop with a credit card. Credit card companies are required to protect you from fraudulent purchases, if your account number is stolen or even if you purchase something online and it is never delivered.

The protections a consumer is guaranteed by credit cards far outweighs protections offered with debit cards and obviously, if your info is stolen, you’d much rather have that happen on a credit card than having your bank account liquidated.

3. Sign up for alerts

There are many options out there for alert programs and applications. Some let you know any time your social security number is used, some monitor your credit score and other vital information.

In regard to your credit cards and bank accounts specifically, you can have alerts sent to your email or your smartphone via text for activity. For example, you can have any purchase made on your bank card/credit card alert your phone. If that seems a bit overboard, you can set it up to alert you to purchases over a specific threshold.

Additionally, you want to make sure you are checking your bank account every day or so just to make sure nothing strange is occurring. That goes for holiday season and the rest of the year.

4. Check out third party payment systems

You’ve probably heard of PayPal but have you ever looked into why using a third party payment system like PayPal is beneficial for both the buyer and the seller?

Systems like these are middle men that help protect both sides of a transaction. The seller knows that the funds are verified but the seller also gets NO ACCESS to your account information. This is a great benefit to you. Instead of using your card and spreading your information from site to site and exposing your information to different destinations, your information is shared with one company.

Another benefit is that these third party payment options are readily available at most stores online and even at brick and mortar locations these days.

Some popular options are PayPal as mentioned, Apple Pay, Amazon Payments, Venmo, Samsung Pay and more.

cyber criminals mobile apps

5. Check Reviews and beware of the “Too Good To Be True”

It is the season for deals without a doubt. But be smart when you see an offer for something that is well below the market value.

That new iPhone isn’t going to retail for $200 no matter how great a deal they are giving you. Hate to say it but there is no free lunch and one of the best ways for criminals to get you on their sites is by advertising an incredible price for a product.

Even Amazon isn’t immune to this. Bogus retailers will advertise products that are never delivered or that have no resemblance to the pictures online. Pretty sure we have all fallen victim to that, holiday season or not.

But this time of year, make sure you read reviews. Do your research and take all the steps available to you to ensure you are protected.

We hope you have a great end of year and that you start 2018 without any personal stories about how cybercrime impacted your holidays.

If you have any further questions, feel free to reach our team and shop safe!