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Online Shopping Tips for Your Members
Monday, November 27, 2017 6:45 AM

Kevin Hood, CISA, IT Consultant, Credit Union Resources

It’s that time of year again. All of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads are popping up in your news feeds and your inboxes.

With more and more people taking advantage of the convenience of online shopping, now is a great time to educate your members on safe online shopping practices. While online shopping is convenient, it also makes members easy targets for attackers through such means as fake websites, phishing, and targeting unsecure systems. Here are a few tips to help protect you and your members:

  • First and most importantly, be vigilant when clicking on links in an email or on social media. If a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is. This type of email or post may be a phishing attempt to lure you into visiting a malicious site. When in doubt, open up your browser and manually enter the website.
  • Don’t respond to emails asking for information. This is another form of phishing attempt attackers may use. They will email you about an issue with "your recent order" and request information. Reputable companies will never ask for this information via email. NEVER email sensitive information.
  • Use reputable apps. If you are using a tablet or phone, make sure you only download apps from reputable sources such as the Google Play or Apple App Store. Criminals are trying to steal card data any way they can. Take a look at the reviews; if the app for a well-known retailer has no reviews, there’s a good chance this is a fraudulent app.
  • Use an updated device. Even Apple is getting into frequent patching cycles. You should always ensure you are using a fully patched device with up-to-date security software. Whether using your tablet, phone, or Windows computer, make sure everything is updated with the latest security patches.
  • Use unique passwords. With online shopping, many times you may be required to set up an account. Make sure to use a strong, complex, unique password for online accounts. Don’t use the same password for everything. Criminals take advantage of the fact that most users will use the same password for multiple sites.
  • Only use secure websites. You should never enter personal information into an unsecure site. Secure websites will be noted by “HTTPS://” at the beginning of the web address. Make sure this is there before entering any information.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi when purchasing. Public Wi-Fi networks should not be considered secure. If you are just browsing sites looking for good deals, you should be fine on public Wi-Fi. However, when you are ready to buy, only enter your payment and contact information when you are on a secure network, such as at home or work. If on a mobile device, using the data connection from your wireless carrier is better than public Wi-Fi.
  • Document and monitor transactions. You should save all of your receipts, emails, and any other communications you may have with a seller. Monitor your accounts closely to ensure unauthorized or fraudulent charges do not appear. If they do, contact your credit union immediately.

While you may miss out on all the excitement of Black Friday in stores, shopping from home in your PJs with a good cup of coffee has its perks. Keep these tips in mind and always be vigilant. The holidays will not be near as enjoyable if you’re dealing with identity theft.

I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving and a merry Christmas!