Black Friday is nigh and with online shopping soaring in popularity, the last thing you need is a cybercriminal setting you up for fraud or worse – identity theft.
Due to pandemic concerns, more shoppers are moving to online shopping, where fake mirror sites and other nefarious sources will be silently waiting to pluck your personal info.
So how do you prevent yourself from being hacked?
Here are some tips:
- Make sure your site is secure: If there’s an image of a lock on your URL, you’re good.
- Create an undeniably strong password: Hackers are using all sorts of descrambling technology to decrypt your personal info. Using either a site-generating password or make sure you incorporate a few numbers and a symbol if you create one yourself.
- Check your bank balances: This tip comes courtesy of Ann Diab, BMO Relationship Manager Business Banking of Windsor’s Howard Avenue branch: “Closely monitor your accounts day-to-day and if there’s a transaction that you don’t recognize or is not authorized, notify us and we’ll look to rectify that for you immediately.”
- Use a trusted website: There are a lot of impostor sites out there. Pay attention to the domain they’re using (i.e. .org instead of .com) and look for misspellings. If you receive a generic e-mail that doesn’t mention your name as part of a sale pitch, don’t click on the link or image. We turn the floor over to Constable Natalya Natyshak of Windsor Police Service: “These are very sophisticated operations and a lot of these are very professional looking. If you’re suspicious of a site, there’s nothing wrong with calling the company directly.”
- Avoid identity theft: Easier said than done, right? But be wary of site that wants your social insurance number (S.I.N.)or your birth date. Best to have a policy to never give out your S.I.N. – unless you are dealing with a trusted source.
- Keep your security software updated: There are plenty of options out there – Norton, Malwarebytes, Kaspersky – to stop those nasty hackers from breaching your PC and stealing your personal information.
- Go Mobile: Technology these days is so sophisticated that you can use any number of retail-secure apps to make your purchase. Enter your info once and a unique code preserves it for eternity and disguises it from would-be fraudsters.
“Don’t overshare your personal data when you’re giving information online and make sure you are using a secure portal with a reputable company that you’re shopping online with,” says Diab. “We offer free security with our online banking that you can download to protect yourself.”
This holiday season, a lot of Canadians will be taking advantage of the post-U.S. Thanksgiving tradition of Black Friday sales to find deep discounts and deals: Finder.com estimates that 12.8 million – or 43% of Canadians – plan to buy something on Black Friday, which falls on November 26 this year.
And with that, comes the online predators looking to make their own five-finger discounts.
“As online shopping has increased, we definitely see a slight increase in these types of crimes,” notes Constable Natyshak.
“These are crimes of opportunity during the holiday season and we want to eliminate that opportunity for these thieves.”
One last tip: If you do order online, make sure someone is home to receive your package, so you can thwart the growing phenomenon known as “porch piracy.”
“If you’re not going to be available, we would recommend that you have the parcels dropped off at a pick-up location. This is a great preventative measure for a theft such as this,” advises Constable Natyshak.
At A&A Insurance, be assured that any quote you that you need online will be held in the strictest confidence with cybersecurity measures in place.
“We have an online quoting portal,” says Amy Lynne Armstrong, Manager at A & A Insurance . “People can get a secure online quote but we are also available by phone or email – and even in person – to review getting the right coverage.
It is all about protection and saving clients money in the long term.”
Armstrong says her staff also stress the importance of prevention when it comes to any type of online activity. “Your identity is of high value so the above tips are important to follow.”
She says Identity Theft Protection is often included as part of home insurance policies but the coverage is for setting up new accounts and any costs related to regaining one’s identity but not to cover the money that may have been stolen as part of the identity theft.
“Everyone needs to be aware and on alert,” says Armstrong. “At A & A Insurance we want to protect our clients well beyond what an insurance policy provides. Whether we are setting up auto, home or travel insurance, we want to be part of educating clients as well.”
So as Black Friday sales and holiday shopping kicks into high gear, it is imperative everyone follows these important online safety tips so the Cyber Grinches will be kept from spoiling your holiday gifting plans this Christmas.