holiday shopping

Online Shopping Amid Pandemic Keeping Cybercriminals Very Busy

Cyber attackers are also busy looking to snag your money and your information -- more now than ever

NBCUniversal, Inc.

We're well into November, and that means for many of us it's time to start planning for Black Friday. But in the midst of a pandemic, you can expect the shopping bonanza to look nothing like it did in the past.

Black Friday has turned more into Cyber November, and while you're looking for those great deals, cyber attackers are also busy looking to snag your money and your information, more now than ever.

The FTC recently released a report that said credit card fraud has jumped 104% from 2019 to 2020. Just to put that into perspective, from 2017 to 2019, it was 27%, so we’re talking about a significant jump in credit card fraud. And most of the fraud is happening online.

According to NBC News, 47% of shoppers plan to do most of their holiday spending this year online.

Local cybersecurity expert Boyd Clewis has been keeping a very close eye on these numbers, and he says this is a concerning time because cybercriminals are going to be preying on individuals that simply don’t have the knowledge. There are going to be more first time online shoppers this holiday season because of the pandemic.  

One thing Clewis stresses, as more people hop online: Do not store your credit card information to a web browser.

“If a site is asking you to store your credit card information, make sure it’s actually a reputable retailer," he said. "And I know most people won’t do it, but I’m going to say it anyway: read the privacy policy and see if they have something on their website that says that they’re PCI or DSS compliant, which is the credit card data security industry standard that companies that accept credit card payments should be following. If they’re not compliant, I personally wouldn’t use a credit card with them at all."

Other ways Clewis says you can keep from becoming the victim of a cyber attacker:

  • Pay with a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards often offer more fraud prevention and protection than debit cards.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication for all your online transactions. For example, getting a text message to confirm a purchase for your online transactions. Clewis says having this in place will alert you to fraudulent transactions about to take place.
  • Avoid doing financial transactions over unsecured public Wi-Fi networks. Cybercriminals can capture information passing through unsecured Wi-Fi networks, including your bank credentials. If you have to do financial transactions on the go, be sure to use only your mobile data.  

Clewis has put together seven beneficial security tips for online shopping, and it’s worth taking a look:

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