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Video: 5 ways to protect yourself while shopping online

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Forget the Grinch Who Stole Christmas: It’s scammers who are looking to rob you of your holiday joy this year. If you plan to shop online, here are five ways to protect yourself against fraudsters who are looking for their own holiday bonus – at your expense.

1. Beware of phony holiday savings apps. Beware of phony Black Friday and Cyber Monday apps. A study done by the firm RiskIQ shows 1 in 10 Black Friday-related apps are considered malicious and unsafe to use. Always read the reviews first, and make sure there are many reviews before downloading a new app.

2. Use a temporary email address for discount codes. You shouldn’t give away your email address just to get a one-time coupon. Instead, take advantage of online tools that allow you to get the deal and keep your personal information private. “You can go to websites like 10-minute email, it will issue you a temporary email address and you can get your coupon, get your deal, and you’re not giving away your personal information,” recommends Paige Hanson, chief of identity education for the security company LifeLock. 

3. Don’t buy over public Wi-Fi. While it may be convenient to buy something on the spot, whether you’re in a coffee shop or connected via a retailer’s Wi-Fi, public Wi-Fi is a hunting ground for even amateur hackers, who want to access credit card and personal information of unsuspecting users. Wait until you get home to make the purchase or use your phone’s data if you need to buy something on the spot. 

4. Don’t open deals you recieve via email. Even if you’re using your own Wi-Fi at home, avoid clicking on deals that come via email. Instead, open a separate browser window and go to the store’s website. If the deal’s legitimate, you’ll find it there. “Some of these emails that you might be getting, if you click on that download for your coupon, malware is being downloaded to your computer,” warns Hanson.

5. Look for security features in the address bar. When you click on a deal or site, make sure the website address starts with “https,” meaning it’s more secure. In the address bar, there should also be a little green lock before the web address. If you don’t see it, don’t buy anything from that site.

Just like you wouldn’t leave your car door unlocked when going to the shopping mall, you shouldn’t leave your information vulnerable to cyber criminals looking for a quick heist this holiday season. 

See related: 4 ways to save money shopping online for the holidays, Inside the dark web

Published: November 23, 2016


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Updated: 12-03-2016


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