Cyber Smart Shopping Tips to Avoid Identity Scams

Enjoy this year’s Cyber Week online shopping season by becoming the smartest, savviest online shopper you can be.

Use these tips to stay safe when shopping online so you can snag the best deals and avoid the scams.

  1. Use familiar websites and know the vendors. Before providing any personal or financial information, be sure that you are doing business with a reputable established business. Verify the legitimacy of the website by reviewing certificate information including who it was issued to. Check the BBB’s online directory and scam tracker or search retailer reviews on Google.
  2. Look for the ‘s’ and the lock. Always look for the security symbol such as an unbroken padlock in the address bar and URLs that start with https. This ensures that your information is protected with encryption.
  3. Avoid phishing and social engineering attacks. Be wary of unsolicited email requesting information from you such as fake invoices or shipping notifications. Legitimate businesses don’t ask for information via email. Instead of responding to the email or clicking on links, type in the  merchant’s authentic website address yourself and log in to check your account.
  4. Be aware of common tricks. Educate yourself about common online scams to avoid falling for too-good-to-be-true deals including rock-bottom prices from unknown internet retailers, fake ads and social media offers, gift card scams and more.
  5. Use credit, not debit. Credit cards offer an extra level of protection from fraudulent charges that may not be available with a debit card. You can add additional purchase protection by using a payment gateway like PayPal, Google Wallet or Apple Pay. Secure payment gateways stop purchase data from being intercepted by hackers.
  6. Monitor your statements and verify receipts. Keep records of your purchases including confirmation pages or email receipts to compare with your bills and statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.
  7. Always use strong passwords. Simple and commonly used passwords allow hackers to easily gain access and control of your online accounts, change shipping addresses, and make purchases using your credit cards.
  8. Don’t purchase over public Wi-Fi. If you shop using your mobile phone, stay on your carrier’s cellular network. Free public Wi-Fi can be much less secure.

Protecting your identity is our priority; rest assured that our identity protection services are comprehensive and adaptive to changing times. To learn more about digital defense tools individuals can use to protect their personal information, contact your local Rural Mutual Insurance Agent.