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Safe Banking

Top 7 Safety Tips for Shopping Online

November 2, 2022
6
min read

More people are shopping online than ever before. Do you know how to safely shop online while significantly reducing the chances of being scammed? Follow these 7 tips and never have to worry about your safety while shopping online again.

More people are shopping online than ever before. Online sales such as Cyber Monday deals encourage people to shop virtually. With more traffic on online stores, cyber-attacks are rising. Criminals are sending phishing emails and text messages, hoping to steal personal information from targets or install malware on their devices. Often these messages are disguised to look like legitimate communications.

Cyber-attacks and data theft are real threats. Unfortunately, cybercriminals have become quite savvy in their attempts to steal personal information. The most common cyber-attacks include ransomware, account hacking, and phishing scams.

We’ll discuss three common scams and offer tips on safeguarding your personal information and digital devices, especially while shopping online

Ransomware Scams

Where a cybercriminal gains access to your computer files and locks them until you pay a ransom, this malware has quickly become one of the most prominent cyber-attacks.

Account Hacking Scams

Hacking schemes corrupt systems, gather user information and steal or disrupt data from digital devices. Devices like webcams, routers, smart devices, and emails are most vulnerable to hacking. Hackers can steal and sell your information when they gain access to your devices.

Phishing Scams

Are used to gather personal information using malicious links or attachments. This method has become increasingly sophisticated; cybercriminals use seemingly legitimate emails to break through all defences. Just like hacking, phishing scams aim to steal personal information.

Visit our Scam Guide to learn more about how different scams affect you.

Top 7 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

You can improve your online shopping experience by following these seven tips to keep your information safe.

1. Use strong passwords:

A strong password combines letters, numbers and symbols and is at least 12 characters long. Don’t use your personal information like birth dates, children’s names, or addresses as passwords because a cybercriminal can easily guess that information.

Another best practice is to change your password often and have different passwords for each account.

2.  Keep your digital devices up to date:

We recommend turning on automatic updates for all your devices. The more recent your devices’ software, the more secure your information. The latest updates come with the latest security and better defences against malware.

3. Avoid public internet connections:

We all love free Wi-Fi access when we are out and about. However, if your device is not properly secured, cybercriminals can easily establish a connection to your device and access your personal information. Using a virtual private network (VPN) can be a good solution to this issue. A VPN encrypts your data, reducing the likelihood of compromising your information.

4. Do not click on unknown links:

If an email does not seem right to you, it’s probably not safe. Instead of clicking on the link in the email, it is best to go directly to the website and log in. If the email seems to be coming from a friend, try contacting that friend directly to confirm that the email is genuinely from them.

5. Sign up for Two-Factor Authentication

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) provides additional security to ensure you’re the one logging in to your account. For additional security, you can choose to enable 2FA every time you log in, meaning you would need to enter a one-time code at each login. If you don’t enable 2FA for each login, you’ll use the one-time code only in these situations:

  • Logging in from a new device
  • Logging in from a new location and there is no matching travel advisory setup on your account
  • When completing certain transactions like accepting an INTERAC e-Transfer.

6. Watch out for fake websites

Knowing how to identify fake websites is necessary for online holiday shoppers. The most common indicator of a fake site is a misspelled domain name on the address bar. Scammers create similar domain names with slight spelling changes, like “amaz0m.net” or “g00gle.org”. Scammers count on you skimming over the domain name; therefore, double-check the address bar before you enter your info. You can also look for the following trust indicators on a website:

  • A return policy
  • Correct spelling and grammar
  • A privacy policy

If you are still unsure about a site, search for online reviews on Google (you can search “[site name] reviews” to find online feedback). A good rule of thumb is to avoid any deals that seem too good to be true.

7. Only shop on secure websites

You can identify a secure website from the address bar. The first thing to look for is the https:// at the beginning of the web address. The “s” in https:// stands for secure which means that the information is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by a third party.

A secure site will usually have a small padlock next to the web address.

This does not mean that all unsecured sites are fake sites; however, for your online safety, you should never enter personal information into an unsecured site.

Cyber attacks are real threats to Canadians everywhere. The best way to minimize your risk is by increasing awareness and vigilance. We encourage you to use the recommended cyber security best practices to build confidence and be safe online.

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