Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

Be aware of Holiday Themed Cyber Risk 

You may be the person who gathers all the ads on Thanksgiving morning, planning the mission on how your family can simultaneously hit multiple stores to reap all the door-buster deals. Maybe you’re that person who scours the Internet for early leaked copies of Monday’s sales to plan your Cyber Monday strategy. 

Whichever profile fits you, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming and bringing with it the cyber criminals in masses.

Criminal hackers follow the money

They track big trends and know when the biggest shopping seasons occur. Plus, like all good social engineers, they’re masters of human psychology, preying on our behavioral weaknesses to get what they want. You can bet criminal hackers are just as excited about the holiday sales season as the discount-seeking shoppers. 

For that reason, it’s important you enter this holiday season with a little more awareness around the following cyber attacks:

Seasonal email phishing scams

Attackers know you have your eye out for emails containing the latest great deal, notifications for packages in transit from recent purchases and even greetings from family and friends during the holiday season. This makes it a great time for them to leverage some seasonal phishing scams to try and lure you to malicious sites or download malware. Some of the most common malicious emails during the holidays are fake UPS, FedEx, or DHL messages claiming a delivery failed, bogus flight notices and even phony secret Santa messages and e-greeting cards. 

To prevent becoming a victim of a Cyber-attack:

  • Go directly to the Company website to put in your account information
  • Call the sender of an e-greeting card instead of replying

Fake product giveaways

Every year the holiday shopping season brings us at least one or two must-have items for the holiday season. Cyber criminals always seem to recognize these popular consumer items early, and use them to lure unsuspecting victims to their trap. While some of these giveaways may be legitimate, you should be careful where you share your information, and what type of information you’re willing to give up.

  • Verify the giveaway by visiting the main website for the Company who is advertising the giveaway

Dangerous digital downloads

During any special event or holiday, malicious hackers often pull out old reliable tricks of the trade. One such trick is the free screensaver, ringtone or e-card offer. The attackers can easily theme their free download offers from whatever holiday or pop culture event is current. 

  • If it sounds too good to be free, it probably is. As always, be careful what you download.
Cyber Monday is the heaviest online shopping day in the United States with last year’s sales exceeding $3 billion within 24 hours.
Holiday Shopping Safety Tips 

Holiday shopping means that you are probably using your credit and debit cards more than normal. For that reason, it’s important as you enter this shopping season with some additional information for card security. 

By taking these steps to safeguard your information, you can be more confident when shopping online or in stores for holiday purchases: 

Shop on legitimate websites

Shopping online is easy and convenient, but make sure you are visiting the actual websites for reputable, legitimate businesses for your purchases. Scammers are good at creating legitimate-looking ads and emails designed to draw you into elaborate phishing schemes to make off with your credit or debit card information. 

  • Verify - Rather than clicking on links in emails or ads on webpages, the safest bet is to type the web address of the store you want directly into your browser bar, or use a search engine if you are not positive on the store’s web address.
  • Secure shopping - Before you enter your credit/debit card information into a site’s checkout process, look for “https://” in the website address bar. If the “s” is not there, your information may not be encrypted when transmitted. So, even if the site itself is legitimate, your card information may be vulnerable. 

Use online banking tools

Use BNC Bank’s online banking to keep an eye on your account 24/7. 

  • Review transactions – notify us right away if you notice any unauthorized activity
  • Set up account alerts – setting up email and text alerts about account activity lets you identify fraud quickly 
  • Text Alerts – enroll your debit card in Text Alerts 

Think twice about where you click checkout

Shopping online is easy, but if you are at a coffee shop, hotel or anywhere else on an unsecured WiFi connection, consider waiting to enter your credit/debit card information until you are back on a secure network again.

  • Wait until you are on a secure network

Be careful in stores

If you are going to do shopping at the mall or at other retail stores, use some common-sense tips to keep your information secure. 

  • Security - keeping your card in a wallet or purse instead of in your pocket where it could easily fall out
  • Limit the risk - only carrying the card(s) you need on that shopping trip
  • Privacy - covering the card number with your hand when you give the card to the cashier to swipe so the number is not visible to others standing in line
  • PIN numbers - It's best to select the debit option when using your BNC Bank debit card. Using the PIN number with your card keeps your information more secure