The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for online shopping. Economists are predicting that more than $2 billion worth of purchases will be made on Cyber Monday alone –a 15 percent increase from last year. The e-commerce maelstrom has also been a big day for cybercriminals. With the high volume of purchases taking place, a great deal of personal financial information is exchanged online, leaving shoppers susceptible to identity theft. Experts from the Drexel University Cybersecurity Institute are offering a few tips for how to be a savvy and safe online shopper.
Do not reuse the same username and password across multiple sites. If one is compromised it is likely that hackers will attempt to use the same credentials to log in to other sites. By not reusing credentials, you can minimize risk of this happening.
Exercise caution when connecting to public wi-fi spots, such as coffee shops or internet cafes, do not assume that it is a secure connection unless you needed a password to connect to the network.
Whenever you are using a computer at a public lab, cluster or business center, make sure you log out of any accounts that you’ve accessed online and log off the computer when you leave. Even if you’ve logged off the computer, the next user could access your accounts –like Gmail or Facebook– if you haven’t logged out of them.
When shopping online make sure the site’s URL begins with “https” when you are prompted to put in your payment information or personal information to set up an account. This means it is using a secure connection.
Avoid clicking on links in emails. If you receive promotion emails or emails with discount codes, type the URL into the browser manually, rather than clicking on the link in the email. You can also search for the discount code rather than clicking on the link to get to it.
If you are notified of a data breach from a company that has your information –a company you regularly do business with or that you have a credit card from- do not ignore their notification. Visit or call the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to understand your rights if you are the victim of identity theft.