Thursday, November 8, 2018

Online holiday shopping: How to stay safe out there

A few nights ago I logged in to Amazon to order a couple of household items. A banner quickly caught my eye, enticing me to view the "early Black Friday deals." I did. And I spent $150. It was three weeks before Thanksgiving.

The holiday shopping season comes earlier every year. This season, we'll spend over $700 billion. With the rise in spending comes an increase in online scams. In 2017, holiday scams were up 20% over the previous year. Expect even more this year.

Cyber thieves are forever devising more clever schemes to get us to click. And they can be very convincing. You don't need to be a victim.

Instead, outsmart them by changing one online behavior: Stop clicking links in emails and text messages. Instead, navigate to the site you want to visit online by typing the URL in the address bar of your browser.

Until you learn to be skeptical of every single attachment and hyperlink that you receive in a digital message, you are more likely to fall prey to a phishing scam or fake web site.

If you absolutely must click a link, first hover over the text to view the real destination behind the link. Make doubly sure it points to a domain that is both legitimate and trustworthy. Blindly clicking on a link is like walking unarmed down an unlit urban alley alone late at night. You do not know what is lurking.

Next time you log in to do some shopping, repeat this mantra:

Stop. Think! Don't click.

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