How are you planning to do your holiday shopping this year? To avoid crowded stores and help reduce the spread of COVID-19, online shopping from the comfort of home is a great option! According to a recent survey, 82% of shoppers will do most of their holiday shopping online this year, and nearly 30% will do all of their shopping online due to the pandemic.
While online shopping is quick and easy, it also makes it easier for cybercriminals to carry out their schemes. Especially during the busy holiday season, it's important to keep your guard up to prevent your personal and financial information from falling into the wrong hands.
Protect yourself from these cybersecurity threats this holiday shopping season:
Public Wi-Fi Hacking
Connecting to a public Wi-Fi network can be convenient when you're on the go, but it can also make you more vulnerable to fraud. This is because hackers can gain access to public networks and steal sensitive data from connected devices, such as credit card information and passwords. To keep your information safe, only use private, secured Wi-Fi networks to shop online, check your email and access online banking.
Whenever you visit a website, look for “https" versus simply “http" and the lock symbol in the address bar. This means a website is secure and safe to use. Never provide your password or credit card information if a website is not secure. If you're planning on doing a lot of online shopping, keep a close eye on your account activity to make sure all transactions were made by you. It's always a good idea to check your accounts at least two to three times a week, and during the holidays, you may want to check even more frequently!
Copycat Shopping Sites
While online shopping, watch out for copycat websites that look like legitimate retail sites. Cybercriminals often create lookalike sites designed to collect shoppers' credit card numbers and passwords. The scammer may try to lure you to the site by sending an email or social media message with a special offer or coupon. Before you click on a link, hover over it to reveal the full URL. Look for small errors in the URL, such as missing or replaced letters. When in doubt, type the correct website directly into the address bar instead of clicking on links.
Package Delivery Scams
With so many people shopping online, scammers are using package delivery scams to trick consumers into giving out their personal information. For example, you may receive an email or text message from someone claiming to be a well-known delivery service asking you to verify personal information or click a link to track your package. If you receive an unsolicited message like this, be wary, even if it has official-looking logos. Clicking the link could download malware onto your device or put your personal information at risk. If you are expecting a delivery, use the tracking codes provided by the retailer. When you know exactly when your package is expected to arrive, you won't be fooled by the scammers.
Social Media Gift Exchanges
In the holiday months, you might get invited to join an online gift exchange (sometimes called “Secret Sister") on social media. Posts about the gift exchange promise you'll receive hundreds of dollars worth of gifts—all you have to do is buy and ship a $10 gift to someone else in the chain. While this online gift-giving trend may seem like harmless holiday fun, it's actually a scam.
According to the Better Business Bureau, these online gift exchanges are an illegal pyramid scheme, and you shouldn't participate. Because the exchange involves sending your personal details (full name, email address, mailing address and phone number) to strangers, it could put your safety and security at risk down the road. Not to mention, you'll spend $10 and likely receive nothing in return. Remember the age-old saying: “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!"
Don't let scammers get the best of you this holiday shopping season! Wright-Patt Credit Union has the tips, tools and resources you need to keep your money and information safe. For more fraud prevention tips, visit WPCU.coop/StopFraud.