'Tis the season for holiday shopping, insanely good deals and - credit card fraud? In 2016, a group of major online retailers expected online fraud to jump 43 percent during the most wonderful time of the year, as more reports of scams, stolen credit cards and fake websites began flooding law enforcement agencies and consumer protection groups. As more of us continue to do our shopping online, that number is expected to grow. By 2018, online shoppers will probably lose a total of $6.4 million because of fraud. So yeah, it's kind of a big deal.
Lucky for you, it's easy enough to prevent yourself from becoming a fraud victim if you follow a few basic internet safety tips as you hunt for that perfect Secret Santa gift:
1. Check the website
Some of the most common scams used by cyber criminals are almost hilariously easy to foil. Case in point: the classic phishing scam. Criminals often create fake websites that resemble your favorite online stores, but the URL at the top might be spelled differently. Or you might get an email that looks legit and includes a link to take advantage of a crazy sale. Always remember to double-check that the link is correct, and for extra security points, look at the first part of the URL that begins with "http://". If there is a lock icon next to it, your browser is telling you that it's a secure site.
2. Use strong passwords
For websites you visit regularly, it's a good idea to create an account using a strong, unique password. According to Microsoft, the best passwords are ones that meet these standards:
- At least eight characters long.
- Combines letters, numbers and symbols.
- Is not easy to guess, like a word in the dictionary or your birthday.
- Is different from other passwords you've used before.
Using an unfamiliar site for a single purchase? Try checking out as a guest if you have the option - you won't need to create a password and your information won't be saved.
3. Shop on a secure network
OK, we've all been that person struggling to find a coffee shop with Wi-Fi so you can place an order before it's too late. Unfortunately, it's easier for shady hackers to snoop in your private info while you're connected to a network without a password. Since it's better to be safe than sorry, try not to enter credit card numbers or other personal data when connected to a public network.
4. Use a credit card
This one might be the easiest, and it can pay off. Let's say you follow all of these steps but still find a
charge on your bill that totally wasn't you. If you used a credit card, you can report fraudulent charges and get reimbursed quickly in most cases. It's a different story with debit cards - you might
have to wait several days before that money is added back to your account.
Talk to your local Trustmark professional for more insight on how to shop online safely this holiday