Holiday Online Shopping Safety Tips By Nina Terenzi 11/26/2019 8:43 AM | 0 Comments Are you ready for Cyber Monday? This year, Cyber Monday — the busiest online shopping day of the year — is on December 2nd, with many stores starting their online sales even earlier. According to CNBC, Cyber Monday sales in 2018 increased 19.3 percent from the previous year, with a record high of $7.9 billion spent online; transactions made on mobile devices alone increased 55.6 percent. Unfortunately, this can also make consumers more susceptible to cyber attacks. In 2017, attempted cyber attacks during the holiday shopping season increased by 57.5 percent. If you are one of the millions of Americans who shop online during the holidays and plan to take advantage of Cyber Monday deals this year, here are some tips to keep your personal information safe from hackers. Shop at trusted, familiar websites. If you’re using the website of one of your favorite brands, you probably already have an online account. But if it’s a website that’s new or unfamiliar to you, do some research first to make sure it’s legitimate. Look for customer reviews about the business, call their phone number, and check to see if it has a social media following. You’ll want to make sure it’s not a fake company that’s just trying to capture your personal information. If you do discover it’s not a legitimate business, report it to the Better Business Bureau. Only enter your credit card information into secure websites. Signs of a secure website include: the padlock symbol next to the website address in the address bar; website addresses that start with https://; and valid certificate information when you click on the padlock symbol, which should provide you with a warning if the website is unsafe. Some websites and browsers turn the address bar green to signify website security. Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Using a debit card means the money comes directly out of your checking account, and banks may take longer than credit card companies to pay back stolen funds. This increases the risk of bounced checks, overdraft fees, and, at worst — not getting reimbursed at all if you fail to report the theft in a timely manner. Credit cards offer a higher level of protection for consumers. Federal regulations ensure you don’t have to pay anything while a credit card company investigates, and most card companies don’t hold customers responsible for fraudulent purchases. Pay close attention to bank and credit card statements. If you’re doing a large amount of shopping at this time of year, it can be easy to lose track of everything you’re buying. Be sure to check statements frequently for purchases you don’t remember making. You can also set up text or email alerts from your bank so they can message you about suspicious transactions. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately to report charges you don’t recognize. Adhere to best practices for online safety. These include: creating strong passwords, changing usernames and passwords often and between websites, avoiding public wi-fi, investing in trusted antivirus software for your computer, and installing important security updates to your devices. Do not open emails or attachments from addresses you don’t recognize until you’ve verified their credibility. These could be phishing attempts from companies trying to entice victims with the promise of a good online sale. While these practices are things you should be doing year-round, it’s a good idea to do a security check-up in anticipation of Cyber Monday. Don’t let your guard down after Cyber Monday is over. Many stores continue their sales throughout the entire holiday season and offer more deals between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s smart to stay on your guard and be suspicious of deals that may look too good to be true. If you find an expensive item with a shockingly low price, look at other websites to see if they have comparable photos and prices. For more information about how to keep your personal information safe while online shopping, contact a trusted member of our Personal Lines team at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 333-7234. We also invite you to learn more about what services we provide at www.easterninsurance.com.