Six tips for online holiday shopping

With the holiday season approaching, online shopping will be at a record high. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most stores are moving their Black Friday events online to alleviate store traffic. 

Beware of cybercriminals who will be lurking in cyberspace to try to steal your personal data for financial gain. Follow these simple tips to stay safe while you shop online:

Look out for phishing and smishing attacks
Beware of phishing emails that try to deceive you to click on dangerous links that appear to be legitimate. Smishing is similar to phishing, except that malicious links are sent in Short Message Service (SMS) or text messages. When you recognize the signs of scams, you can protect yourself from identity theft and subsequent financial loss.

Be wary of fake delivery notifications
Do not click delivery-notification links from emails you aren’t expecting. When tracking shipped deliverables, it is always safer to go directly to USPS, UPS and FedEx websites instead.

Make all your passwords unique and strong
Change your password or passphrase regularly, never use the same password for more than one account, and use a password manager to store your passwords (e.g., LastPass, KeePass). For more details about passwords, visit NC State Password Standard.

Set up Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Use 2FA, which provides two or more ways to log in to your accounts; it prevents hackers from accessing your accounts, even if they obtain your login and password via phishing or other malicious activities. For example, some mobile devices allow you to set up a fingerprint scan as an additional method to access your account. An ever-growing number of services already support 2FA, including Facebook, Tumblr, eBay, PayPal, Twitter, and online banking. To learn more about who supports 2FA, visit Two Factor Auth (2FA). You are also encouraged to read each company’s documentation thoroughly to understand how 2FA works with their service.

Shop only on secure networks
Do not sign in to any of your accounts when you connect to the internet over public and unsecured networks. Wait to do your online shopping from a private, secure Wi-Fi connection.

Shop only on secure sites
Check the website address where you are shopping and make sure you purchase only from websites displaying a locked padlock icon to the left of the address or those with “https://” at the beginning of the address. The “s” indicates a secure connection that encrypts your personal information. If a shopping website is not secure, do not use it.

Have a safe holiday shopping season.