Check Before You Click—How To Stay Safe While Shopping Online

Online shopping has become a daily reality for many of us. In fact, U.S. shoppers spent $126 billion on online shopping during the 2018 holiday season. That’s a lot of opportunity for deals—and security downfalls.

While online shopping is easy and efficient, you want to practice the best safety habits to ensure you aren’t giving the gift of an easy target to a cybercriminal. Here are some tips to help you get your holiday shopping done without falling victim to cyberattacks!

  • Stick with store names you know. If you shop at sites that are familiar to you, there’s a far better chance that your credit card won’t be compromised and the items you buy will actually arrive when indicated. Sometimes, however, you’ll want to try other places as well—maybe you want something that is only available from a certain company. If so:
  • Check out the site before you buy. If your nephew’s greatest holiday wish can only be found at a website you’ve never heard of, check out the company before you offer up your credit card information. The Better Business Bureau has a spam tracker and an online directory that you can use to get information on the company. You can also do an internet search to find out if anyone has had trouble with this site before.
  • Only shop from websites that are secure. How do you know they’re secure? A tiny lock will appear in the website address bar, and the URL will start with HTTPS instead of HTTP. This means the site has encryption software installed so when you give them your credit card number, it’s more likely to stay safe.
  • Never give your social security number online. Also try to avoid revealing your birthday. If you’re trying to make a purchase and the site is asking for more personal identification than you feel comfortable with, there’s a good chance something’s wrong—back out of the site.
  • Do your online shopping at home. Avoid using public networks, which are often less secure. Plus, if you’re entering your card numbers in a public place, there’s a greater likelihood someone is watching and taking note of those numbers.
  • Check your credit card statements regularly. Don’t wait for your monthly statement to arrive in your mail or email. Log in to your accounts on a regular basis to make sure you recognize all the charges that have been made. And if you use them, be sure to check your online payment sites such as PayPal or Venmo. Spot anything strange? Pick up the phone!
  • Take action! Even those who take all the precautions can end up a victim of a cybercrime. If this happens to you, contact the seller, and that company doesn’t respond, report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission, your state's attorney general, even the FBI. Not only will you be more likely to recoup any losses, you’ll be helping protect future shoppers.

 

Online shopping can be efficient, convenient, and less expensive than brick-and-mortar shopping, but only if you take steps to stay secure. If you spot anything strange on your online Mascoma Bank accounts, give us a call at 603-443-8664 or 603-443-8665 so we can solve the mystery and help you stay safe!

Want to know more about staying safe online? Check out these Mascoma Bank articles on different kinds of internet fraud and steps you can take to secure your online finances.

 

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