As we gear up for the busiest shopping week of the year, protecting yourself from scams and theft might not be the first thing on your mind. However, there are important steps you can take to keep yourself safe this holiday season.
1. Shop and ship to a secure location.
Ship your packages to your work location, a safe porch, or ensure someone is home at all times to avoid theft. During the holiday season, “porch pirating” (someone stealing packages off a porch or doorway) rises with the amount of shipments coming through. Many shipping companies now have lockers available for safe and secure deliveries. If you are shipping directly to your recipient, check to see where they would like their gifts sent safely.
2. Use official retailer apps or online retail to shop.
Mobile apps allow convenient shopping while on the go- making holiday shopping a breeze. However, beware of installing an app laced with malicious software. Criminals can use apps to infiltrate smartphones and do any number of things, such as directing users to fraudulent subscription services or expensive content providers without your consent.
Protect yourself against malicious mobile apps by only downloading apps from reputable stores such as the App store, Amazon App store, Google play, etc. Some providers, such as Google Play, scan apps for malware prior to publishing them on their store.
3. Don’t Save your Credit Card Information Online.
Though convenient, storing personal and payment information online can be risky. Some retail websites are not equipped to securely store your info. This leaves your sensitive data vulnerable to cyber thieves or data breaches, and can result in credit card fraud. It’s best to either skip the autofill option or try using a password manager, which provides an extra layer of protection to your account info.
4. Use Apple Pay or Google Pay for a layer of protection.
Credit card fraud is a serious problem in the U.S., but using a digital wallet or app, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, can increase your transaction security. The digital wallet obscures your payment card information so the merchant sees a unique, one-time code that is only good for that purchase. If a hacker tries to get their hands on the store’s payment information, they wouldn’t be able to see your credit card or bank details.
5. Be wary of “Too-Good-To-Be-True-Offers.”
Clicking on emails from unknown senders can infect your computer with viruses and malware. Learn more about phishing scams in our other blog posts here. It is better to play it safe and delete the email than to click on an unknown link. Don’t open any attachments from individuals or businesses you don’t know.
6. Be careful with the information you give out.
Retailers will not ask you for your Social Security number, so don’t give it out! If you are asked for very personal details by a retailer, call the customer service line and ask whether you can provide other identifying information. Or just walk away. Find a more reputable and accommodating retailer for your holiday shopping needs.