It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go
Take a look at the five and ten, it's glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes that glow
Don’t y’all just love Christmas? The snow glistening on the sidewalks, the Christmas markets covering the town, the warm hot chocolates on a cold Winter’s day…. Wait, hang on, sorry, let me rewind. That was just me living a daydream in my mind. What I meant to say was the huge Christmas displays in town, the Christmas trees on sale around the city, and of course, what we love most, those lovely big red sale signs in stores! Ah yes, Christmas in Singapore.
And Christmas shopping! How can we forget that! Especially online Christmas shopping, where it can be done comfortably on my own couch, without having to fight the crowds or carry those huge heavy bags (because no arm muscles you know).
But while you are now in that festive spirit, let me just casually give you a tiny dose of reality. Because as more consumers purchase goods and services online, cyber criminals (aka them hackers) do tend to take advantage of this opportunity to swoop in and steal your sensitive information!
So what steps can consumers like you and me take to better secure our online accounts and transactions?
#1: Don’t hesitate to update
Before making any online purchase, be sure that all internet-connected devices ‒ including PCs, smartphones and tablets ‒ are running the most current versions of software.
#2: Use a secure wifi
Using public Wi-Fi to shop online for gifts is convenient, but it is not cyber safe. Don’t make purchases via public Wi-Fi; instead, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or your phone as a hotspot for a more secure shopping experience. Or, just wait until you're home and on your own secure network.
#3: Lock down your login
Create long and unique passphrases for all accounts and use multifactor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. MFA will fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics or a unique one-time code sent to your phone or mobile device.
#4: Think before you click
If you receive an enticing offer via email or text, do not be so quick to click on the link. Instead, go directly to the company’s website to verify the offer is legitimate.
#5: Do your homework
Fraudsters are good at setting up fake e-commerce sites, particularly during the holiday season. Prior to making a purchase, read reviews to hear what others say about the merchant. In addition, look for a physical location and any customer service information. It’s also a good idea to call the merchant to confirm that they are legitimate.
#6: Consider your payment options
Using a credit card is much safer than using a debit card; there are more consumer protections for credit cards if something goes awry. Or, you can use a third party payment service instead of your credit card. There are many services you can use to pay for purchases without giving the merchant your credit card information directly.
#7: Don’t give it all away
Be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete your transaction. If the merchant is requesting more data than you feel comfortable sharing, cancel the transaction. You only need to fill out required fields at checkout and you should not save your payment information in your profile. If the account autosaves it, go in after the purchase and delete the stored payment details.
#8: Keep tabs on your bank and credit card statements
Continuously check your accounts for any unauthorized activity. Good recordkeeping goes hand-inhand with managing your cybersecurity. Another tip for monitoring activity is to set up alerts so that if your debit or credit card is used, you will receive an email or text message with the transaction details.