The second half of the year is always something to look forward to. It’s a time for celebrations, for festivities and for shopping! As you get closer to the holiday season, shoppers intensify their hunt for good deals. From toys to clothes to electronics, this is the season of indulgences. Sadly, not everything about this season is a reason to cheer. Preying on people’s naivety, hackers and fraudsters use holiday shopping scams to fool people and steal their data. Here’s how they do it and what you should do to protect yourself.
Phishing scams are the easiest way for hackers to gain access to your personal data. These emails typically look like they’ve been sent from trusted websites. But, if you look closer, it isn’t too difficult to spot the differences. That said, hackers are getting increasingly creative with their phishing scams. A phishing email might appear to be a purchase confirmation and have a link to cancel the transaction. A recent email scam targeting Amazon users informed shoppers that their account had been compromised and directed them to a fake Amazon website.
The easiest way to protect yourself from such scams is to verify email addresses. Check the address the email has been sent from. For example, if Amazon were to send an email, it would be sent from email@example.com. If the email sender’s address is firstname.lastname@example.org, it’s safe to say that it’s a phishing email.
In an age where even teenagers can make their own websites, it isn’t very hard for hackers to create websites that look exactly like a trusted shopping site. In most cases, hackers send unsuspecting shoppers emails with great deals and a link to this cloned website.
The link opens out to a login page that looks and acts just like the website you’d normally shop at. Once a shopper enters the login details, they’re directed to the actual site. What does this whole process offer the hacker? Of course, access to the shopper’s login id and password. With these credentials, the hacker can make unauthorized purchases.
To protect yourself from such scams, never click the link in an email. Instead, type it out on a fresh webpage.
Tech System Vulnerability
Every system is vulnerable to viruses, malware and other such breaches. Hackers take advantage of these vulnerabilities to infect systems and steal personal information. This is why operating systems keep giving system updates. These updates protect the system against known virus attacks. To protect yourself while shopping online. Ensure that you install system updates as soon as they are available.
Contrary to what you may think, people don’t always shop from their dining table. Many people actually get their shopping done while taking a break in the office or while enjoying a cup of coffee at the neighborhood café. What many shoppers don’t realize is that shopping through a public Wi-Fi network is riskier than shopping at home through their own WiFi network. Hackers have crafty ways of intercepting data over public systems and accessing account details, payment information, etc.
To protect yourself, avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi networks. Your WiFi network at home is secure but still hackable. To make it more secure, add a layer of encryption by using a virtual private network, or VPN.
Shop at Trusted Websites
A great deal can tempt shoppers to shop at websites they’ve never visited before. However, there’s no telling how safe the website is and how secure the shopper’s details will be with them.
Hence, always shop only at trusted websites. How can you tell whether a website is trustworthy or not? The answer is by paying attention to the customer onboarding process. Ideally, the website should verify your email address before a purchase can be completed. Email verification doesn’t just help companies maintain clean email addresses in their mailing list; it also shows that the company is serious about its own security. These measures are typically part of a larger data protection plan. Thus, you can rest assured that your details will be safe with them.
Data security is something big e-commerce players take very seriously. However, it isn’t only the retailer’s responsibility. Customers too need to apply a little common sense. As the old saying goes, when a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. By shopping smart, you can still get the best deals for all your gifts without compromising your security.
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