With the upcoming holiday season, many are going to open their pockets, but unfortunately, some unwelcome hands may attempt to grab New Yorker’s wallets.
That reality prompted the officials at Governor Cuomo’s office to encourage online vigilance from New Yorkers who may shop or give to charities during the holiday season, especially on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday.
“Today’s technology makes online shopping incredibly convenient with just the click of a mouse or swipe of a screen,” Margaret Miller, New York State’s Chief Information Officer, said. “While these technologies make transactions much easier for the consumer, they also make cybercrime much easier for a hacker.”
Nationwide, NYS officials say cybercrime cost Americans $1.7 billion in 2014. To avoid becoming a statistic, officials recommended the following:
Do research before buying:
- Buy from merchants and websites you know you can trust: Don’t visit websites that seem too good to be true, nor just because you found the link on a blog or an advertisement. Many times they can be fake websites.
- Watch out for ads that aim at misleading you: Read the fine print always and don’t fall for illegitimate merchants.
- Don’t click on pop-up advertisements and email links: Just don’t do it, as they’re almost never real.
- Check over refund policies and delivery policies: Some scams and ‘good deals’ are offered due to shady policies.
- Watch out for charity scam donations: Think twice about giving donations to links you click on. Only make contributions by clicking on the trusted website first, never an email link or pop-up.
Protect your personal information:
- Keep your computer secure: Make sure you have virus software and adware blockers installed. Don’t invite viruses by avoiding free downloads.
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks for personal banking and online shopping: Sending personal information over unsecure networks leads to identity theft.
- Secure your own Wi-Fi: Use custom settings to ensure your Wi-Fi is secured and under an encrypted setting.
- Don’t purchase on unsecure websites: Watch the https:// on a website. If it has the s, which stands for secure, and a locking symbol, then it is likely safe to purchase on.
- Don’t save passwords in browsers and vary your passwords: Saving passwords will allow hackers into all your accounts if they find the password for one account.
- Never respond to messages over email or over the phone for personal information: Always keep personal information like your social security number to yourself. Legitimate organizations will never contact you over social media, email or the like, nor will the solicit you over the phone.
- Paying with a credit card keeps your payments safer: If your credit card is compromised, you can cancel it, and by law they have protection against fraudulent charges.