Before you take advantage of all the great deals, we want to be sure you are safe and secure when shopping online:
1) Beware of "phishing" messages, especially those with links or attachments. Scammers know you’ll be ordering a lot of goods online. Thus, you’ll also be receiving all kinds of confirmation emails and shipping notices. It’s easy for phishers to fake an Amazon or PayPal email, for example, alerting you to a problem with your order. The real problem? The email is a fake and the link or attachment is loaded with malicious code.
2) Shop online at home behind a safe and secure private network, not on public Wi-Fi. Scammers will be out in force, searching for bargain hunters using public Wi-Fi hotspots to do their online shopping. Do you really want your credit card information, home address, and other sensitive information to be transmitted over unsecured airwaves?
3) Block pop-up ads. Pop-ups with fake coupons are becoming more common, and they can appear on legitimate shopping portals. Use a pop-up blocker or strong computer security software to stop malicious advertising before you can see it.
4) Double check the checkout option. Before you pay for your goods online, double check to be sure that there's a padlock icon in the address bar. This signifies that your credit card information will be transmitted over a secure, encrypted connection. If there's no padlock, shop somewhere else.
5) Use a credit card rather than a debit card to pay online. Credit cards have better protections built into them should a bad guy manage to intercept your transaction or hack into the retailer's database.
6) Watch out for registration scams. You've created plenty of accounts on various sites, and you're likely accustomed to providing answers to secret questions should you ever need to recover your user name or password. These questions are typically along the lines of "your childhood best friend’s name" or "your favorite color". If you're asked to provide sensitive information like your Social Security number or date of birth, you could be on a malicious site.
7) Beware the quirky QR code. QR codes have never fully taken off in the United States, but they're still around — and they're a prime target for scammers. Some have placed fake QR code stickers on top of real ones. The fake QR codes direct unsuspecting users to malicious sites.
8) Be skeptical on social media. Facebook scams like free giveaways and surveys are notorious, and they're easy to fall victim to. You'll be prompted to fill out a form or download a file in order to qualify for the "contest." Another popular scam involves enticing videos, but only if you first download the appropriate video player. Don't do it!
9) Monitor your bank and credit card statements like a hawk. This is prime time for lots of purchases, and it's also prime time for fraudsters to sneak in their own purchases with the hopes that you won't notice. Report any suspicious or fraudulent transactions to your bank immediately.
10) Shore up your defenses. Now is a good time to upgrade your computer security to ensure that your system is adequately protected against scammers, hackers, and other cyber criminals. While you're at it, make sure to have a good backup system in place and use strong passwords to protect your accounts.