As residents start to prepare their holiday shopping this year, the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) warns shoppers to be wary of scams that will likely increase in the coming weeks.
From the convenience of easily making household and grocery purchases to an endless offering of gifts, online shopping has grown in popularity at exponential rates since 2020. Increased online traffic also makes it more lucrative for cyber thieves to trick buyers into scams and steal personal information for financial gain.
“The holidays are a busy time of year for folks shopping virtually, making travel arrangements, and wanting to give back to charitable organizations, but it’s also a busy time for cyber criminals who are trying to take advantage of people,” said Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology Secretary & State CIO Jennifer Ricker. “We want to help our Illinois residents protect themselves against these malicious hackers by offering best practices to ensure they are cyber aware this holiday season and every day.”
Online shopping best practices recommended by the National Cyber Security Alliance include:
- Think before you click: Beware of ads encouraging users to click on links, account warnings and shipping notifications. If you receive notice or an enticing offer, do not click on the link. Instead, go directly to the company’s website to verify the offer is legitimate.
- Do your homework: Cyber thieves are fond of setting up fake e-commerce sites. Prior to making a purchase, read reviews to hear what others say about the merchant. In addition, look for a physical location and any customer service information. It’s also a good idea to call the merchant to confirm that they are legitimate.
- Consider your payment options: Using a credit card is often recommended over a debit card, as there are more consumer protections for credit cards if something goes awry. Watch what you give away: Be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete your transaction. If the merchant is requesting more data than you feel comfortable sharing, cancel the transaction. You only need to fill out required fields at checkout and should never save your payment information in your profile.
- Keep tabs on your bank and credit card statements: Be sure to continuously check your accounts for any unauthorized activity. Good recordkeeping goes hand-in-hand with managing your cybersecurity.
Educate yourself on cyber scams and fraud to ensure you do not become a victim. View resources from Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) to learn more.