aNewDomain — The magical shopping day known as Black Friday is right around the corner. Each year merchants flood our televisions and airwaves with ads touting the best deals. These “mega deals” tend to create a frenzy and ruckus among consumers which leaves the customer vulnerable to malicious attacks each Black Friday and holiday shopping season.
Folks, please take the time to make sure you’re safe and secure during this season.
Tips for safely shopping Black Friday and the holiday season
Don’t use your banking account data
This may be a total pain, but it is worth the piece of mind. Instead of swiping your personal banking cards, swipe a prepaid debit card. Some banks and retailers offer prepaid Visa debit cards. All you do is purchase it with cash to load it for use. The prepaid cards are not linked to your personal account or any personal data, rendering them a much safer option. Even merchant gift cards such as Amazon, Google Play or iTunes are a safe choice as gifts. No personal data are tied to these options.
“Hey Ant, we have Android Pay and Apple Pay. We can use that for security.” This is true, loyal reader. The tap and pay option is another way to be secure. Your personal data is loaded into the phone, and the service generates fake card numbers for your transactions. Two things, first there’s still no real study that says near field communication (NFC) is the most secure standard. Secondly, not everyone has this option available on their smartphones.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
Use your own mobile connectivity or a secured Wi-Fi hot spot that you can trust. Many hackers are out right now setting up honeypots to extract your Wi-Fi data. It’s a prime season for these attacks. It’s rather common for merchants to offer in-store free Wi-Fi. Don’t trust it. Some of these free Wi-Fi hot spots may be fake.
Don’t click the link in your email
You’ll get tons of emails this shopping season. Emails that will have your purchase confirmation and some that will have shipping information. All of these messages contain hyperlinks for your records. The problem, hackers can fake emails also. When you receive a fake email, it can be hard to differentiate it from a trusted source. The fake email will have hyperlinks that can install malicious software on your computer or even lead you to a page asking for usernames and passwords. This is where the hackers take over your data. True merchants and couriers offer tracking via its website. Just go to the site and verify the data instead.
Be mindful of phone calls from “your bank” asking for you to verify your personal information. No bank will call you to verify who you are. No bank! These phone calls are phishing schemes without the email.
If you must shop in public, shop in groups for added security. Thieves are more than happy to watch you walk back to your vehicle alone and help themselves to your purchases. We are a socially sharing group of people this day and age. Don’t always “check in” on Facebook or Swarm letting your followers and friends know where you are. That data could be picked up and mark your home as a free target for robbery.
Now get your legs stretched and your fingers warmed up for the holiday shopping season. Please be safe when you’re shopping online or out in public. Do you have any safe shopping tips for me? Share them with me on Twitter or in the comments below. I’d like to hear your thoughts.
If at all possible, be sure to pick up something for those that are less fortunate. It’s a season of giving. Let’s not only make this a safe holiday shopping season, but a joyous one for all.
For aNewDomain, I’m Ant Pruitt.
All image credits: Ant Pruitt. All rights reserved.