The Christmas season is supposed to be a fun and joyous time for families. While that is usually the case, sometimes threats are lurking around the corner, putting a damper on the festivities. This is undoubtedly the case for cybercriminals. The holiday season is the most significant time of the year for online shopping. As such, many internet fraudsters use this time to launch their schemes. If you don’t want to become a victim, below are six easy ways to make online holiday shopping safer.
Keep an Eye Out for Porch Pirates
While cybercriminals are certainly a considerable threat in regards to online shopping, one of the biggest nuisances for online shoppers doesn’t exist online at all. These are porch pirates. Most of the time, they simply drive around and follow delivery trucks to see what homes have received packages on their doorsteps. They then come back minutes later and steal those packages in broad daylight. $5.4 billion has been stolen by porch pirates over one year.
There are specific strategies you can use to keep porch pirates at bay. For one, you could follow your shipment tracking closely enough to receive your packages in person. Second, you could give the online retailer instructions to place the package in a hidden location from view or more secure. Third, you can install surveillance cameras and warning signs that make it clear that thieves will be prosecuted.
Search for PCI Compliant Stores
In regards to online stores, you should look for stores that are PCI compliant. PCI stands for the payment card industry. PCI compliance refers explicitly to data security standards put in place by the credit card companies and payment processors to ensure that credit or debit purchases made online are as secure as possible.
Such standards may include maintaining a secure network, protecting payment card data, running a program to patch vulnerabilities, continually monitoring the network, and more. Overall, the goal is to ensure that customer data remains secure during and after purchasing at an online store. Always check to see if an online store is a PCI compliant before making a purchase.
Create Secure Passwords
One way that online shoppers are victimized is through the practice of password cracking. This is the use of software that can guess a password by cycling through the most likely options. If your password is short and generic, your accounts at online stores may be easy to break into. However, if your password is longer and more complex, it may be more difficult. In certain instances, it may become virtually impossible to crack a secure password. Create a secure password by combining words, numbers, lower case letters, upper case letters, and symbols in a hard to guess the pattern.
Implement Two-Step Verification
You should consider increasing your security while shopping for Christmas presents online to implement two-step verification for your online accounts. Two-step verification works by blocking someone from logging into your account on a device that the account is unfamiliar with. To log-in, they will have to use a code sent out to you via text message, an alternate e-mail, or some other means. Since the criminal won’t have access to that different account that received the code, they will be prevented from logging in to make fraudulent purchases or steal your information.
Safeguard Your Social Media
Online crooks may also use information you post online to make it easier to target your home. Don’t post on social media about expensive gifts you have bought or received. Criminals will target a home if they know it contains valuables. If you are planning a trip for the holidays, don’t announce it on social media. You should only discuss trips and vacations in the past tense in your social media accounts. Otherwise, burglars could learn exactly when you won’t be home. You don’t want to return to the nightmare of discovering your home was burglarized after a vacation.
Don’t Shop on Public Wi-Fi
Lastly, you should never do anything on a public Wi-Fi network that involves exposing your financial information. Public Wi-Fi networks are rarely that secure. Someone close to you could capture things like credit card numbers or bank routing numbers over the insecure network. Instead, only shop while using your phone’s internet plan or your secure Wi-Fi network at home.
Everyone wants to enjoy the holidays. However, there are specific threats you must stay mindful of. The possibility of thieves and criminals victimizing you based on your online shopping habits is a genuine possibility. Implement the security suggestions above to help ensure this does not happen.
By Stephanie Snyder
Stephanie Caroline Snyder graduated from The University of Florida in 2018; she majored in Communications with a minor in mass media. Currently, she is an Author and a Freelance Internet Writer, and a Blogger.