The online shopping season is now squarely upon us, with a slew of deals in stores, online, and on shelves for those trying to get a gift for everyone on their list, or simply take advantage of the bargains on offer. In recent years, it’s become more and more common for holiday shoppers to do their shopping in the online space, where they can beat the crowds and jam-packed parking lots in favor of shopping in their own home.
In fact, online shopping is so popular that it seems likely it could soon eclipse in-store shopping as the preferred method. This year, according to a survey from Deloitte, eager holiday shoppers will use their devices and their legs in equal measure. Deloitte found that “this holiday season will mark a major milestone, as shoppers plan on spending an equal amount online versus in stores. Consumers say that 47% of their holiday shopping budget will go to online spending, and 47% will go toward purchases inside physical stores.”
While the perks to crossing off your list at home are numerous, it’s vital for shoppers to remember there are some potential dangers as well. As we were recently reminded with the controversy of fake apps in Apple’s App Store, things that seem legitimate at first glance online can easily fool consumers who don’t bother to verify. Further proof of that fact was reported by Mashable, who recently quoted Experts Exchange COO Gene Richardson as saying that “25 percent of all security breaches [are] taking place in the retail sector.”
Here is a list of tips and points to look out for while you’re in holiday shopping mode. Remember, it’s not just your shopping list you have to check twice but where you’re buying from as well!
Shop online at home (or on a secure connection): It can be tempting to cross items off your shopping list while you’re waiting in line at the bank or sitting in a coffee shop, but you should resist the temptation to enter card details on public wifi networks or when you’re using your phone’s data plan. These scenarios make it easy for people around you to monitor your phone’s activity and potentially get hold of your card details. If you must shop while in public, be sure to use an encryption service or VPN to mask your traffic.
Security alerts: Make sure you have text, email, and/or phone security alerts set up with your bank or credit card company in the event that fraud does occur. These systems tend to be pretty good at early detection, but being responsive before a fraudulent payment goes through is key.
Always look for HTTPS: Make sure the sites you are shopping on have the prefix “HTTPS” in the domain field, as this will indicate that they are encrypted, if you follow a shopping link from social media that is posted by someone you know, make sure you’re not redirected to an untrustworthy site without this designation in the domain name.
Shopping on apps: If you’re shopping through a retailer’s mobile app, make sure it is an official version with a reputable company or developer behind it. If you’re unsure, read any public reviews that are available before you download, and read the app’s description. If something seems amiss, don’t risk it, as it might be a malicious app impersonator.
Use the ‘too good to be true’ rule: If a deal online seems too good to be true – and it’s not being offered by a major, reputable retailer like Amazon – then trust your gut. Don’t spend lots of money on a risky item only to find you’ve been duped.