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It’s October and that means everyone at E-INFOSOL would like to provide some helpful cyber tips for Cybersecurity Awareness Month. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2021, online shopping scams accounted for about $392 million in reported losses from consumers. The holidays are rapidly approaching so please remember the tips below to keep your online shopping experience from turning into a Halloween nightmare.

1. User secure devices and trusted connections

When shopping online, be sure your devices are up to date, and you are using trusted Wi-Fi connections or mobile data. Keeping devices patched with the latest security updates provides protection against easy avenues of attack used by cyber criminals. Antivirus and anti-malware will also provide protection against attacks. Avoiding public hotspots and other open Wi-Fi networks, those without a password, is another way to protect yourself from criminals. You can enjoy a safer shopping experience by using secure networks, think Wi-Fi networks with a lock icon, while purchasing online.

2. Avoid “Too good to be true” deals

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Cyber criminals use a variety of methods to pass along these “deals” to get victims to click links. Emails, texts, pop-ups, and social media posts will lure unsuspecting shoppers looking for savings. Following these links allow criminals to capture credentials, credit/debit cards, and personal information necessary for fraud and identity theft.

3. Never use a debit card

It’s important to only use credit cards for online shopping. Debit cards don’t offer the same protection online that you get with credit cards. Even when using credit cards, don’t save the information when requested by the website. Major stores are not immune to breaches. Customer data is often stolen during these security incidents. Online payment services, such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, etc., are another safe alternative to debit cards when available. Just remember to protect your PayPal account with a strong password and multi-factor authentication.

4. Use the retailer app

By using the app provided by the retailer, shoppers avoid incorrect links. Often the retailer’s app offers additional savings through rewards and promotions. Stick to shopping apps for reputable companies when shopping online. While supporting small businesses locally is great idea, shopping with small unknown businesses online can lead to compromised personal information.

5. Be wary of email and text links for shipping updates

Cyber criminals will use shopping season to target victims using fraudulent shipping updates. Never click on links or respond to unexpected texts or email messages with vague shipping messages. Attackers rely on victims anxiously awaiting packages to arrive to entice clicking on links that allow the criminals to collect important personal or payment information.

6. Stop oversharing on social media

Spear phishing is a type of electronic attack in which scammers target a specific person or group. Sharing your purchases through social media allows cyber criminals to craft specific messages to target your buying habits.

7. Protect accounts with multi-factor authentication

As mentioned earlier with online payment services, always protect your accounts with multi-factor authentication (MFA). There are many reputable authenticator apps available for MFA, as well as MFA hardware keys, and SMS text messages. Choose a form of MFA that you are comfortable using and apply it to your accounts. While SMS is not the best choice for multi-factor authentication, something is better than nothing.

E-INFOSOL hopes this shopping season is a memorable one for all the right reasons. Remember these rules and stay safe this holiday season.