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  • rbenack4


Updated: Mar 13, 2022

During this pandemic, people will be shopping more online and spending more time there then in the past. They will also be using their mobile devices extensively. Its even more important now that people practice online safety.

How Do Criminals Target Online Shoppers?

There are several common ways that criminals can attack online shoppers:

  • They create fraudulent sites and send malicious email messages – Criminals can create malicious websites or email messages that appear to be legitimate. They may also misrepresent themselves as charities, especially after natural disasters or during holiday seasons. Criminals create these malicious sites and email messages to steal your personal and financial information.

  • Targeting vulnerable computers – If you do not take steps to protect your computer, criminals may be able to install viruses and gain access to your computer.

Below are simple ways to better protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim of online fraud and identity theft:

  • Avoid free Wi-Fi networks: Though convenient, free Wi-Fi networks , such as in some airports, hotels, train stations or cafés, are often used by cybercriminals to steal your online accounts and personal information. Before connecting to a free network, check the name of the network and the login procedures with the staff to confirm that the network is legitimate. Never conduct sensitive activities, such as online shopping, banking, or sensitive work from a public wireless network. You should always assume any “free” Wi-Fi in an airport is very high risk.

  • Lock down your accounts:

    • Establish a strong separate password for each online shopping account. Always use more than ten total characters consisting of upper-case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters to create a strong password.

    • Use different passwords on each of your online accounts. If one retailer is hacked and your credentials are leaked, having the same password between accounts makes it quick and easy for criminals to access other accounts. If you have trouble remembering all your unique passwords, consider using a pattern for your password or using a password manager.

  • Buy safely online:

    • Only do business with reputable vendors – Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure that you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Some criminals may try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear to be legitimate, so you should verify the legitimacy before supplying any information.

    • Use a credit card instead of debit cards – There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, but you may not have the same protection for your debit cards. Also, debit cards draw money directly from bank accounts so unauthorized withdrawals could be charged to your bank account. You can minimize risk by using a single, low-limit credit card for all of your online purchases.

    • When ordering online, check out as a guest to avoid saving payment information online. The inconvenience of having to enter your credit card information each time keeps you safer because a data breach at a retailer will not expose your financial information. It also means your payment information is not saved or can be used by anyone who gets access to your account.

    • Check your credit card statements – Keep a record of your online purchases and copies of confirmation pages and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately to your credit card company.

    • Make sure your information is being encrypted. When passing sensitive information to a website, ensure the information will be encrypted. Look for a URL that begins with “https:” instead of “http:” and a padlock icon. If the padlock is closed, the information is encrypted.


  • Be careful of unknown emails

    • Be very cautious of emails requesting information – Criminals may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information (called Phishing). Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email. If you receive an unsolicited email from a business, don’t clicking on the provided link. Instead, directly log on to the authentic website by typing the address yourself or look the website up on Google or Bing.

    • Most of us receive emails from retailers about special offers during the holidays. Cyber criminals will often send phishing emails—designed to look like they’re from retailers—that have malicious links or that ask for you to input personal or financial information.

    • Don’t click links or download attachments unless you’re sure where they came from. If you’re concerned whether an email is legitimate, type the URL of the retailer or other company into your web browser as opposed to clicking the link.

    • Never give your password, or personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited email. Legitimate businesses will not email you asking for this information.

  • Guard your mobile device. To prevent theft and unauthorized access or loss of sensitive information of your mobile device, never leave it unattended in a public place. Keep your devices secured in taxis, at airports, on airplanes, and in your hotel room.


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