Cyber security threats loom large as more people do their holiday shopping online, according to one cyber security expert.
According to Nick LaRosa, owner of CMIT Solutions of St. Louis, everything from deceptive advertisements to email phishing and malicious digital e-cards and apps, present an opportunity for scammers to steal from consumers.
“Understanding the most common online shopping scams that target consumers this time of year can keep confidential information safe and give everyone peace of mind,” LaRosa said. “Staying informed on the latest tactics that scammers are using to take advantage of online shoppers can prevent a lot of unnecessary stress during the holiday season.”
Cyber Monday continues to outpace Black Friday in terms of shopper participation, the National Retail Federation reports.
“From ATM skimming to deceptive advertisements, email phishing, bank robocalls, malicious digital e-cards and more, Christmas really does come early for hackers,” Bailey Hewitt, a spokeswoman speaking for LaRosa’s firm said. “Given that the U.S. accounted for 72 percent of breaches in the world last year, consumers need to know to shop with caution as their Social Security numbers and credit cards are not always safe. As hackers become more advanced in their methods to obtain compromised information during the holidays, their tactics are constantly changing.”
Here are some tips for staying safe online this holiday season:
• Steer clear of fake shopping apps. Scammers have developed new shopping apps that ask you to store credit card information, which can be used to make illegitimate purchases or can be sold on the black market by hackers moving stolen records.
• Only shop on secure websites. Check the website’s URL address to make sure it has “https,” not just “http” — the “s” signifies an extra level of security for transmitting private information on the internet. Avoid shopping through websites that haven’t committed to putting enhanced security in place.
• Be wary of deals that look “too good.” Scammers use websites, online ads, and emails offering free or heavily discounted goods to try and obtain private information. Never click on any links associated with these emails or ads.
• Keep personal information private. Never provide banking or Social Security information if prompted by an online advertisement, social media request or email.
• Delete e-cards from unknown senders. E-cards are usually a nice gesture, but only open them from known senders. Virus-infected e-cards are very common this time of year.
• Use credit cards. Complete all online shopping transactions with a credit card, as this limits personal liability in the case that you fall victim to a scam or your data gets stolen.