Christmas is a major shopping period and people are increasingly buying their gifts online. While this is great for dodging the crowds, it also creates new vulnerabilities that could get you scammed or compromised. Fortunately, online security for this holiday season doesn’t require you to be paranoid or a tech genius. Simply follow some basic web safety tips and you will be able to enjoy Christmas safe and sound.
Don’t Click on e-Mail Links
Your inbox is going to start getting a lot of e-mails and ads from various retailers offering awesome sales and excellent deals on gift ideas. Most of these are probably legit, but scammers are really good at making their phishing e-mails look like the real thing. It’s best to stay on the safe side and simply not click on any links from e-mails and especially don’t download unsolicited attachments. Any deal offered from an e-mail will still be obtainable from the retailer’s site directly. What if the e-mail says you have to click to get the bargain? That’s a huge red flag for you to stay away. After all, why would a real business actively restrict the ways you can buy from them?
Get Antivirus Protection
Antivirus programs and antimalware systems are integral parts of online security that guard against malicious software. If you don’t already have such a system installed, get one ASAP. Fortunately, free security packages are usually available from your operating system’s manufacturer, like Windows Security. Many other security setups also offer free trial periods that can last you for the holiday shopping season even if you don’t intend to buy.
Use Secure and Trusted Web Sites
When possible, stick to using web sites you know and trust for your Christmas shopping. If a web site has been safe for you in the past, chances are it’s not trying to steal your information. Should you go to an unfamiliar web site, however, make sure it is secure. Check the address bar and look for “HTTPS” at the start of the URL and/or a padlock symbol. Just to be safe, double-check for both of these when you are brought to a payment screen and are prompted to enter your credit card info.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Public Internet may be a great convenience, but it isn’t always the most secure network available. The right set of tools and know-how can let a cybercriminal hack a public network and view the data you’re sending out, like passwords and credit card numbers. If you must use a public Internet connection to do online shopping, at the very least you should do so on a virtual private network (VPN) for some extra protection. It should also go without saying that entering any personal or private information on a computer you don’t control, like a library terminal, is a big no-no.
Mind Your Credit Reports and Transactions
Vigilance is a key part of online security. One of the common tactics identity thieves use upon obtaining your information is to make one or two small transactions and wait and see if you notice. Read through your monthly credit card statements and yearly credit reports and follow up on any irregularities you notice. This is especially true for your credit reports—you may forget a purchase or two but it’s unlikely you opened up new bank accounts and so on without remembering.
LUSO Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative dedicated to providing members with quality financial services and products and ensuring their financial safety and security. We at LUSO pride ourselves on serving the financial needs of our members in Wilbraham, Ludlow, Springfield, Chicopee, Westfield, and Hampden County, Massachusetts.
Feel free to contact our Ludlow branch toll free at 1-844-LUSO-FCU or our Wilbraham branch at 1-800-808-5876.