Black Friday may look different than in years past as shoppers avoid crowds, opting instead for online shopping only, typical of Cyber Monday. In any case, Salisbury Police offers a few tips to stay safe from cyber criminals this holiday season:
Think before you click: Beware of ads encouraging users to click on links. If you receive an enticing offer, do not click on the link. Instead, go directly to the company’s website to verify the offer is legitimate.
Use credit cards over debit cards: There are more consumer protections for credit cards if something goes awry. Or, you can use a third party payment service instead of your credit card. There are many services you can use to pay for purchases without giving the merchant your credit card information directly.
Use a secure Wi-Fi: Using public Wi-Fi to shop online while at your favorite coffee shop is tremendously convenient, but it is not cyber safe. Don’t make purchases via public Wi-Fi or what you think may be public Wi-Fi; instead use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or your phone as a hotspot.
Watch what you give away: Be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete your transaction. If the merchant is requesting more data than you feel comfortable sharing, cancel the transaction.
Keep tabs on your bank and credit card statements: Be sure to continuously check your accounts for any unauthorized activity. Set up alerts so that if your credit card is used, you will receive an email or text message with the transaction details.
Keep a clean machine: Keep a clean machine. Be sure that all internet-connected devices ‒ including PCs, smartphones and tablets ‒ are free from malware and infections by running only the most current versions of software and apps.
Lock down your login: Create long and unique passphrases for all accounts and use multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. MFA will fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics or a unique one-time code sent to your phone or mobile device.