With the holiday shopping season approaching, nCipher VP of Strategy Peter Galvin shared some top tips for keeping personal information safe and avoiding scammers.
Should consumers use verified security sites like PayPal to make purchases instead of putting in their credit/debit card details into retailer sites directly?
Consumers should first ensure they are on a known or trusted site that properly protects their credentials. Be cognizant of deals from companies you’ve never heard of and double-check the URLs of your favorite sites to ensure you’re in the right place.
Many sites use payment gateways which are designed to protect your credit card, debit or PayPal payment methods and never reveal your credit card information to the merchant. Credit card companies are also providing new methods for adding an additional layer of security. Capabilities like Visa Secure confirm your identity when you make an online purchase. PayPal is also known as one of the most secure payment methods, but it is recommended that for online payments you connect your PayPal account to your credit card for added fraud protection. Similar services like Amazon Pay connect your identity with your credit card information, again ensuring a safe payment environment.
What about malware on retailers' sites - what should buyers be aware of to determine this, if at all?
Consumers should use well-known e-commerce companies who have a reputation for strong security. Most established sites have a number of tools to quickly identify or prevent malware from their sites. Also, when connecting to online sites ensure they have ‘HTTPS’ in their URL bar, as this indicates your communications with the website are encrypted.
Consumers sometimes switch between or surf to other sites while in the process of inputting bank details to do price comparisons. This isn't advisable, is it?
Avoid switching between or surfing to other sites while in the process of inputting bank details to do price comparisons. You wouldn’t leave your credit card with the cashier and then go shop for other goods. The same logic should apply to leaving your payment details open online and then surfing for other products. Web sites have a number of links for advertising or information links which in rare case can be used for malicious purposes.
What else do consumers need to be aware of from a personal security standpoint?
Be wary of public networks, including free Wi-Fi hotspots, particularly those that aren’t password protected. Also be cautious of any request for login credentials, particularly if it comes from social media. Also be very careful when using shared computers, such as those at a library or kiosk. They may include malware, skimming devices or vulnerabilities since in many cases they are not updated with the latest security patches. On your own computer, ensure you have the latest software updates and security patches.
Are there any other read flags consumers should look out for?
Always be careful of emails or sites that ask you for your personal information. When receiving emails that request you click on a link or input information, check the URL to ensure it is HTTPS and roll over the link with your mouse to ensure the site you are clicking on matches where you think you’re supposed to go. Fraudulent links only have to be one letter or number different to take you to the wrong site.