Online shopping will continue to dominate the way shoppers procure gifts for friends, family and the like this holiday season. According to data from Salesforce, e-Commerce revenue is expected to grow 13 percent in 2018 over the previous year with mobile devices accounting for 46 percent of purchases, 44 percent on desktop computers and nine percent for tablets.
Consumers are expected to spend about $1,250 each on gifts this year. With that much money and the outcome of your family holiday on the line, we talked with a cybersecurity expert about how to expertly shop online without putting your finances, identity or data at risk.
Here are the top five recommendations for safe online holiday shopping from Chris Duvall, the senior director at The Chertoff Group.
Beware of clicking on links delivered to your email.
During the Holiday season, a phishing attempt may come via an email with a link to a fake website built to steal your personal information. Exercise caution in refraining from clicking on such links and downloading files from unknown sources --- also beware of emails or websites with typos and grammatical mistakes, which are common characteristics of phishing attempts.
Prioritize shopping at trusted sites and do your research when purchasing from a less-familiar site.
On the internet, some websites are created by people just wanting to steal your information. To avoid this pitfall, shop at retailers you are familiar with and have used before.
If you want to purchase an item from an unfamiliar retailer, do some research first. Consider checking out the company’s social media following, customer reviews, its record at the Better Business Bureau, and even contact the business directly.
When buying from online marketplaces like eBay, thoroughly review the seller’s reputation, assess the item description carefully, read comments, and even ask the seller direct questions before buying.
Be skeptical of suspiciously low prices.
While big sales are a holiday trademark, if a price seems “too good to be true,” then it probably is. Compare prices for the same items on other websites. If the price is drastically lower, then it is probably a scam designed to acquire your information.
Be on the lookout for fake shopping apps.
Hundreds of fake retail apps designed to steal your credit card information are popping up in Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Make sure to download the legitimate version of retail apps by downloading it directly from a store’s website, or by thoroughly checking user reviews if downloading from an app store.
Assess website security.
Look for the padlock symbol in the address bar, or a URL that begins with “https” as opposed to “http,” with the “s” standing for “secure.” Some browsers will even indicate whether it’s safe for you to give out your credit card information by showing you a green address bar, while unprotected ones will be red.