Too full from turkey to go shopping on Black Friday? Cyber Monday allows shoppers to avoid the crowds and take advantage of great deals online from the convenience of their computer or mobile device. According to the National Retail Federation, nearly half of all holiday shopping will be done online this year. While online shoppers will be able to take advantage of big sales and deep discounts, they’ll also see an increase in cybercrime as online criminals seek to exploit the festive season.
With Cyber Monday, it’s important to learn how to shop securely during the holidays. To help keep you and your bank account safe, follow these three simple steps from the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. campaign:
- Protect Yourself Against Phishing Attempts. During the holiday season, scammers may send fake emails about order problems or deals that are too good to be true to entice you to click a malicious link. Online thieves often use these links to compromise your computer. Instead of clicking on links, type in the address yourself or look it up on a search engine and follow that link. You can also call a company directly to confirm the legitimacy of an email’s claim. Additionally, look for typos or other visual errors in the email, which may indicate that it was not sent from the reputable company it claims to be.
- Use Strong Passwords for Sensitive Accounts. Protect your personal information by making the passwords to your bank and credit card accounts stronger. Create a password with 8 characters or more and a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Use unique passwords for all accounts. If you have the same password for all of your accounts, this increases the chance that a criminal can access all of your other accounts if they figure out your one of your passwords.
- Avoid Shopping on Public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi is convenient when you’re away from home and on the go, but not as secure as a password protected Wi-Fi or your home network. Save your online shopping, banking, or sensitive transactions for a secure connection, preferably when you’re back at your house.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect. campaign encourages everyone to practice good cybersecurity all year round. For more tips and resources, visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.