Hi friends! We are friends by now, right? :) Cybercrime costs the U.S. economy anywhere from $24 to 120 billion each year, the Center for Strategic and International Studies reports.
This year, get the jump on your Cyber Monday holiday shopping safely by protecting your computer with these eight tips.
1. Use antivirus software - Antivirus software alerts you to malware, spyware or keylogging software installed on your computer. Most antivirus programs also spot phishing scams, which attempt to steal your information by posing as legitimate entities (i.e. your bank). Keep your antivirus software up to date and running this holiday season to stave off cybercrime.
2. Be wary of too-good-to-be-true email offers - If you see an incredible-sounding offer (say, 80 percent off Sephora's new arrivals), check the store's website or CyberMonday.com, a site that lists legitimate Cyber Monday offers. If Sephora is offering the same deal, you know it's legit and you can shop with confidence.
3. Shop securely - Type in the store's actual Web address when searching for deals. For example, go to Macy's site directly when searching for deals instead of relying on a potential scam email or link on an unfamiliar site. A secured Website keeps your data protected so that others may not view it during transmission. Secured sites use https instead of http. If you are trying to check out and you do not see the S there, hold off on your purchase. Someone may swipe your credit card number.
4. Protect your network - Protect your home wireless with a password to stay safe. While you might browse the internet at your local library or coffee shop, don't purchase anything if their network is not secured.
5. Log off, don't just close the window - You bought those stocking stuffers from Target and paid after making sure the page was secured. Don't just close the webpage window, log out of your Target account first. This prevents thieves from stealing your personal or financial information because you left your information logged in.
6. Pay with credit and watch your account - Paying with credit cards is often more secure than a debit card purchase. Keep an eye on your account for fraudulent activity in the days and weeks to come. If you see fraudulent activities, file a claim with the credit card company. Many credit card companies also screen for unusual transactions. So, if someone in Romania tries to purchase $1000 worth of computing equipment, a red flag goes up as this is obviously not consistent with your purchasing behavior. The transaction will not go through and you'll be notified.
7. Update that web browser - Using an old version of IE or Firefox can leave you vulnerable, according to the Chicago Tribune. Protect your finances by updating your browser when asked.
8. Use smart passwords - When signing up as a store customer online, select a strong password that combines letters, numbers and special characters. There are encryption apps you can use to make your password hard to hack, such as KeePass. If you're worried about forgetting an encrypted password, use a memorization tool like Dashlane.
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