Use your phone to shop online? Here’s 4 ways to make it safe.

Tere Kovacs

Tere Kovacs

December 1, 2021

Use your phone to shop online? Here’s 4 ways to make it safe.

Holiday shoppers who prefer online shopping to standing in line for the best deals are in for a treat in 2021. According to NBC News Select, many retailers have chosen to continue online Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals well past the initial offerings with some of their best deals of the year yet to come.  Amazon has ongoing Spotlight Deals, Lightning Deals, and more with up to 50% off on top brands. We found more deals with top retailers:

  • Amazon: more deals on electronics

  • Bed Bath & Beyond: hundreds of ongoing cyber deals

  • Best Buy: new daily deals

  • Cabela’s: online only deals with up to 50% off

  • Etsy: up to 60% off offered by small businesses

  • Kohls: cyber deal days with 20% off with promo code GOSHOP20

  • Macy’s: daily cyber deals on top brands and 30% friends and family discounts

  • Target: up to 50% off on hundreds of toys

With a 47% increase in eCommerce sales, more retailers are offering incentives and rewards to their online shoppers. But when it comes to shopping online, are you safe from cybersecurity threats when you shop from your phone? Follow these precautions to keep shopping from the comfort of your mobile device - anywhere and anytime - without worrying about what could happen when you enter in your credit card information.

1. Keep your phone software updated.

Cybercriminals are constantly changing their tactics and learning new ways to steal our financial and personal data. Operating platforms like Apple iOS and Google Android have teams of experts always working to keep up with the latest cyber attacks and offer frequent updates to combat the attacks with security patches for known vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are banking on us to ignore the security alerts to update our operating system software. 

Tip: Program your devices to run software updates at night, and you will sleep right through it. 

2. Avoid using public or open networks.

According to the Federal Trade Commission on how to safely use Public WiFi Networks, "WiFi hotspots in coffee shops, libraries, airports, hotels, universities, and other public places are convenient, but often they're not secure. You put yourself in increased danger of someone accessing your sensitive information while using internet connected to public WiFi.  Instead, they recommend:

  • Use your mobile data instead of WiFi 

  • Look for HTTPS in the URL to know a site provides encryption

  • Don't use the same password on different sites

  • Use the recommended complex passwords offered by Google and iOS

  • Don't access your financial information on a public network

Tip: If you suspect your data has been stolen or compromised, visit the Federal Trade Commission at IdentityTheft.gov to report the theft. Next, start on a recovery plan and report the issue to your local law enforcement.

3. Stay vigilant to holiday scams.

The Better Business Bureau cautions us that many local in-person events such as pop-up holiday markets or craft fairs have moved online this year. Unfortunately, scammers are creating fake event pages, social media posts, emails, and charging admission for what were free events with the goal of stealing your personal and credit card information.  Look for the "HTTPS" in the URL (the extra “s” is for "secure") and a small lock icon on the address bar. If you are unsure the site is legitimate, check for an address listing on the website and look for a phone number you can call to confirm. 

Tip: For more safety tips on pop-up shops visit the BBB site’s Holiday Pop-Up-Shops. Before checking out of a shopping cart, double-check the site’s security.

4. Setup Two-Factor Authentication on your devices.

Use mobile applications that offer a 2-step verification process known as two-factor authentication or 2FA. This provides your account with an extra layer of security and can keep your mobile shopping safe and protect your account security. 

Setting up an auto-lock on your mobile device so it will ask for a passcode before providing access is smart. Setting up 2FA for a double layer of protection is the smartest. 

With 2FA, only you can access your account on a trusted device or the web. See Apple support to enable 2FA with your iOS device. See Google support to enable 2FA on your Android device. When you do this, you will receive a verification code, typically through a text message. You may also get a security key by scanning a QR code from your mobile device. The Earth Class Mail "How To Video" will show you how to enable 2FA. Other top brands like Amazon, Dashlane, Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter also have the 2FA extra security feature and step-by-step instructions to enable it.

At Earth Class Mail, we take the responsibility of receiving and handling our customer's mail and important documents very seriously. While we would love to provide a virtual mailing address for everyone, we are most concerned that anyone using a virtual mailing address service knows we keep their private information safe.

Tip: Even if you choose to use a different provider, make sure they're following security best practices. Don't turn over your postal mail to a company that isn't 100% focused on protecting your information. 

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