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CHIPS Articles: Shopping online this holiday season? DHS says beware of online scams

Shopping online this holiday season? DHS says beware of online scams
By CHIPS Magazine - November 29, 2017
Free shipping! Next day delivery! 50 percent off! Your email is probably bursting with offers for online discounts. The holiday season is in full swing, and with it comes parties, entertaining and gift-giving. An increasing number of consumers are shopping online to meet their holiday needs and online retailers have noticed — so have scammers.

But while online shopping offers convenience and a dizzying array of goods, it also provides opportunities for scammers to target consumers through fake websites, phony offers and malicious apps. Ensure you have a safe and secure holiday shopping experience by following the tips below from the Department of Homeland Security.

Improve your cyber posture and avoid online shopping scams by:

  • Remembering to hover over hyperlinks and think before you click. A common phishing tactic during the holidays is a phony email saying an order has shipped, with links like “Click here for expected delivery date” or prompts for your login and password to a particular website.
  • Avoiding making purchases over public Wi-Fi. Use your cellular data for financial transactions instead.
  • Using your credit card rather than your debit card for online purchases. Credit cards offer more consumer protections if your card is compromised and will not impact your checking account like a debit card. Continue to monitor your credit card and bank statements regularly to detect any fraudulent activity that might go unnoticed.
  • Choosing encrypted shopping websites for safer transactions. There are two ways to tell if a site uses encryption: a closed padlock icon in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window or at the top of the browser window, or a website address that begins with “https:” rather than just “http:”.
  • Heeding “certificate error” messages. If you receive a notice that says “certificate error,” examine who issued the certificate, ensure the name matches the site you are visiting, and ensure the certificate has not expired.
  • Downloading vetted apps. Never install software outside of your phone’s designated app store, and only use trusted vendor apps when shopping from your phone.
  • Creating strong passwords. Avoid using the same password for your online accounts; otherwise, one compromised account can translate to multiple compromised accounts.

Additional cybersecurity information, resources, and training can be found on the Stop.Think.Connect page.

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