It’s getting closer to the most wonderful time of the year! And as holiday excitement grows, the stress of holiday shopping season is also mounting. With Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Boxing Day sales coming up, there are great deals to be had. Now more than ever, people are doing their shopping online for its convenience. Online shopping can be very safe, but it’s important that you know how to recognize a scam and keep your personal information secure so that you don’t become a victim of cybercrime.
Here are some important tips to consider so you can protect yourself while shopping online:
Never shop or bank on public Wi-Fi. You never know who else is using the same Wi-Fi network as you, so you should never access or input sensitive, personal, or financial information while using a public network. For your Wi-Fi to be secure, it should be password protected and other people should not have access to that password.
Only shop or bank on your own devices and update your antivirus software. Always keep your antivirus, operating systems, and Web browsers up-to-date and ensure that your firewall is active. Software that isn’t updated is more vulnerable to viruses.
Look for the lock symbol in your browser. Ensure you have a secure connection by always making sure there is a lock symbol in the address bar of your browser or that the URL begins with “https” (‘s’ is for secure).
Use passphrases instead of passwords for your online accounts. Passphrases, such as a line of lyrics to your favorite song or a common phrase you use, is not only much easier to remember than a password, it is also more secure. Be sure to mix in uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Use different passphrases for different accounts and make sure you change them on a regular basis and any time an account has been compromised.
Watch out for phishing or scam emails. Phishing emails can look very legitimate and often ask you to report a problem with a purchase you haven’t made, validate an account you haven’t created or threaten some type of action. Never click on links in these emails and verify the request by contacting the company through an email or phone number you have used before.
Opt-in to two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication provides an added layer of security when logging in to an account. Once you opt-in to this feature, every time you log in you are required to provide information only you have access to or a confirmation code that is sent to your phone.
Never provide more personal information than is needed. You should be protective of your personal information and only provide it when absolutely necessary. Make sure you find out how your data will be stored and who has access to it.
Keep your devices locked. Make sure all mobile devices and computers have a password to prevent other people from logging on to them when you are not using them.
Check your bank statements for fraudulent activity. Check your bank statements regularly and report any fraudulent activity to your financial institution immediately. If you’ve suffered a loss or have been the victim of a threat, you should also report it to the Calgary Police Service.
If it is too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers will try to take advantage of your good nature by using high-pressure tactics. If something doesn’t feel right or a transaction doesn’t seem fair, it’s probably a scam.
On behalf of the Calgary Police Service, I’d like to wish you a safe and happy holiday season!
Roger Chaffin is the Chief of Police for the Calgary Police Service.
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