The holidays are in full swing. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, but the shopping season is far from over. In 2018, holiday sales crossed the $1 trillion dollar mark with the majority of those sales coming from e-commerce platforms. However, in the midst of this incredible shopping season is the ever-present danger of thieves and scams. How do you protect yourself from holiday scams? Here are our top five suggestions to keep you safe.

The Danger of E-Skimmers

Card skimming isn’t a new practice. Traditionally this happens at ATMs or gas pumps where an installed device grabs data when you swipe your card. Now the technique has gone digital with scammers installing code on retail websites to skim your data at checkout. A great way to avoid this danger is to use a third-party payment site such as PayPal or Amazon where this sort of code is actively looked for and dealt with. Also always monitor your bank activity for added protection.

Retailers Don’t Hide Offers in Attachments

This is becoming an increasingly common attack by scammers. Using a seemingly legitimate email address, and doctoring the text to look official, the message will offer deals or important information via an attachment. Retailers don’t hide deals in attachments. They want you to see them upfront. This is where malware is hidden and waiting for your curiosity.

This is also done with shipping services such as UPS and FedEx. So, instead of clicking on the internal confirmation number, take it and run it via the legitimate websites for these companies. These little moments of caution will go a long way in keeping you secure.

Beware the Gift Card

An increasingly common scam is related to the purchase of gift cards. The thieves, in this case, will acquire the numbers off of the unpurchased gift cards, monitor them for activation, then drain the funds off of them before they’re even gifted. Most retailers have physical barriers in place to prevent this from being done too easily. For your protection, check the card before you purchase it. Make sure the PIN isn’t exposed and that the card’s packaging is intact. Ask a retail worker if you think something is odd and request a new card.

Credit not Debit

Your debit card is linked directly to your bank account and if it’s compromised then you will quickly find your funds drained and the process of recovery much more stressful. Using a credit card keeps distance from the scammers and your cash. It also provides you with an added layer of protection as many credit card companies have a zero liability policy for fraud and, for those that don’t, the Fair Credit Billing Act limits your liability to $50.

Shop on a Secure Network

This seems obvious, but sometimes our want of convenience keeps us from making the best choices. Don’t do your holiday shopping on open networks. This is practically inviting scammers into your computer and exposing you to some heartbreak over the holidays. Do your shopping on a network you know is secure, and consider using a VPN, in order to keep the scammers away and your holidays a bit happier.

Keep yourself and your business safe from identity thieves and hackers this holiday season with these simple tips.  At AITP Charleston, we are always at the forefront of the latest in technology news. Follow us to stay informed and learn from industry experts.  From monthly events with expert panelists to articles relevant to you and your business, AITP Charleston is the place for IT professionals.