Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cyber Grinch – Avoid At All Costs

by Sidney Angelos


At present, December 12th, is coined “Green Monday” . As the second Monday in December, Green Monday starts cyber week – the last week for those red hot free shipping offers and the ability to receive an on line shipment in time for Christmas. This time of year also sparks on line theft too! If you’re one of many making that last dash this week shopping on line just remember these tips to help you avoid playing victim to cyber Grinch.

Debit Cards or Bank Cards vs. Credit Cards

While convenient, debit cards can turn an otherwise harmless on line buy into hours on the phone disputing charges if stolen. Debit cards are directly linked to your bank account which means easy access to all your hard earned dollars.

Experts suggest using a dedicated credit card for making purchases on line. Credit card companies can easily reverse fraudulent charges whereas banks aren’t as quick to reverse charges.

Auto Fill

Another convenience that can turn disastrous is auto fill. Don’t allow your laptop to save credit card data or passwords, especially on a shared laptop or on your cell phone. More and more consumers are using mobile phones to purchase on line. A stolen phone can result in thousands of dollars of counterfeit purchases. It’s best to be safe and not save any passwords or credit card information on any device.

“Remember Me”

Similar to the above point, clicking the “remember me” box can prove devastating. On a shared laptop or a lost cell phone someone could rapidly and easily log into your account and make purchases without you knowing. Don’t click “remember me” and you’ll reduce the risk of getting grinched.

Computer Safety Scans

Phishing scams and viruses are all ways hackers can get onto your system and steal your data. That’s why having an updated anti-virus program is essential if you wish to do any on line purchasing during Green Week.

Secure Internet Access

Along with an up-to-date anti-virus program you should also make use of secure access to the world wide web. If you have a wireless setup make sure your access is password protected. If you’re “using” an unsecure wireless connection of your neighbors – make sure you don’t buy any products on line.

Trust Your Gut

If an on line store looks sketchy or a deal seems too good to be true – trust your gut. Don’t make a buy on a site that doesn’t look trustworthy (no matter how many gold star emblems they have on their homepage).

Your Youngsters Can be Victims

Be mindful of your kids during this time of year as well. They can just as easily click on an unsafe link or be the victims of on line fraud as you can. Inform your children about the dangers of buying online and sharing information online or on their phone. Companies like internet provider Comcast suggest a family safety contract for your kids. Communicate with your kids and teach them to avoid dangerous situations online. Opening up the dialogue with your children about their online practices is important to keeping your family
secure .

How are you avoiding the cyber Grinch this holiday season?