Like many of us, shoppers are turning to the internet on Cyber Monday to find deals to save money on holiday presents. The season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year, but if you’re not vigilant while buying gifts online, grinches can steal more than your holiday cheer.
Americans have been duped out of $338 million in online shopping scams this year, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBU). Scammers use bah-humbug tricks — low prices, fake websites, and additional costs for safe delivery — to swindle people into giving them money or personal information, leaving shoppers with a bag of coal.
Vito Rocco, UNLV’s chief information security officer, is helping gift-givers spot holiday mischief and avoid online schemes, so they won’t be left out in the cold during the winter festivities.
- Use a different password or passphrase on each site, and never reuse passwords across multiple sites. Make it easier to remember your passwords by using a password manager. A password manager stores your passwords in one secure place. It can generate complex passwords and ensures the same password isn’t used on multiple sites.
- Turn on multifactor authentication (MFA) if it’s available. MFA adds an extra layer of security by asking you to prove your identity with a verification code sent to your phone or other devices before you can log into an account.
- Be wary of clicking links in emails or on websites. Make sure the link goes to the site you are expecting by hovering over the link to see the URL address. Instead of clicking the link, you can go directly to the site and search for the product.
- Use a credit card for your online purchases. With consumer protections, most credit card companies limit your liability for fraudulent charges. They recognize a purchase out of the ordinary, stop it, and block the card. If a credit card offers it, create virtual cards for online purchases, deactivating them after shopping. Limit the number of sites where you store payment information to protect you if the site is ever breached.
- Look for a lock icon in your browser to ensure the website is secure. You can click the lock icon or hover over it to view site information for a secure connection. This ensures that data transmitted between your computer and the website is encrypted.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of sites offering deals that sound unbelievable. You can end up with a counterfeit item, or worse, the site captures payment information to use fraudulently. Don’t simply base your judgment on positive reviews since they can be fake to entice people to buy from the site.