Black Friday, the once biggest shopping day in our history which falls on the day after Thanksgiving has been outpaced by Cyber Monday.
Buying online on the Monday after Thanksgiving has become the largest shopping day and it all happens with the use of technology. For some it means shopping on the computer while others will use their smartphones. As a matter of fact, 80% of adults will buy something online with 30% occurring on our mobile devices!
No matter which way you (or your senior loved one) choose to shop for the best holiday deals you can find, security when you are surfing the net should be a number one priority.
What We Do and Buy Online
Many people not only compare products looking for the best prices and features, but also read reviews before buying and even look online standing in the store to see if there is a better deal elsewhere.
This means that we are engaging online for a fair amount of time visiting many different shopping sites and apps which could set us up for security breaches.
According to a Pew Research study, not only are we using technology to buy things, we are buying more technology online too!
We are buying gaming systems, tablets, phones, laptops, appliances, cameras, and the latest Internet of Things (IoT) devices for our increasingly smarter homes online through our technology.
Protecting Online Buying
The experts remind us as we approach the holiday buying season that everything we own or buy that is connected to the internet is at risk for cyber threats, scams, and identity theft.
Older adults who are new to technology or trying a new device should be encouraged by caregivers to learn about cyber hygiene to help protect themselves from people who want to steal something from them not just when they shop but all the time.
While it is important to learn about security, however, it’s important not to throw gasoline on the fire of any existing conceptions of online safety — or lack of it.
Hackers and criminals go on the prowl during the holidays so we should all be on our guard as we shop this season.
Here are some tips from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to keep you and your senior safer online this holiday and all year long:
- Before you shop, be sure your connected device is free of malware by running a scan and updating your apps.
- Before you buy, update your passwords and logins to be sure they have double authentication and the strongest passwords you can make.
- Learn about the website before you buy. Check out other people’s experiences with reviews to be sure you will not be disappointed or scammed with a purchase.
- Avoid links in your social media platforms as cyber criminals can steal your information and infect your devices when you click these links.
- Don’t give vendors more information than they need for the transaction. Don’t give more info than the fields they request including passwords, Social Security numbers and other secure information.
- Don’t use free WiFi hotspots to buy products as your passwords and information is not secure there. Logging in and using passwords can be exposed. Limit access to your own device whenever using these hotspots.
- Don’t fall for online deals that look too good be true — because they probably aren’t. Often you won’t get the product or it will not be what you thought you were getting when you buy from a ‘dealer’ instead of a reputable online retailer.
- Be alert to phishing emails that warn you a package you ordered can’t be delivered unless you pay or click on a link. Don’t fall for it!
- If you are registering a new account, set up new and unique passwords. 68% of seniors (and many of those who are younger) use the same password for all accounts!
- Don’t fall victim to a giving holiday-season heart when the scammers look for donations. Charity scams will prey on your senior’s emotions so check to see if it is legitimate before you give them your savings.
- Be wary of emails that say your credit card or bank account has a problem that requires you to divulge personal information, passwords, click a link or pay money. We have gotten them from a bank, credit card, ‘Google Team’, Facebook friends and delivery services which were all fake emails.
- When shopping in a store, disable your Bluetooth and WiFi settings on your devices so the stores can’t track your movement.
Here’s a fun quiz you can do with your senior to test your skills spotting online scams. It was created by Home Instead Senior Care in partnership with NCSA.
The old adages have truth for us today: Buyer beware and better safe than sorry!
We hope you use some of these tips to enjoy safe holiday shopping!