Tulane security expert offers tips for safe Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping

Tulane security expert offers tips for safe Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping

November 24, 20203 min read

The holiday shopping season will take on a different look in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of lining up in long lines during the early hours on Black Friday, many consumers will choose to shop online this year.

Randy Magiera, a cybersecurity expert and professor of information technology and information security in Tulane University's School of Professional Advancement, is available to speak about what online shoppers should and should not do to avoid falling victim to cybercriminals during two of the biggest shopping days of the year. For interviews, contact pr@tulane.edu or Roger Dunaway at (504) 452-2906.

According to Magiera, retailers have moved more of their sales online this year. Scammers know that consumers will be on the hunt for deals and plan on taking advantage of the shift to online sales.

One of the easiest things a consumer can do is only shop on sites with a good reputation. Scammers will set up advertisements and even fake stores in some cases, advertising amazing deals to trick consumers into giving up their sensitive information. If something appears too good to be true, chances are it probably is. Another way consumers can avoid becoming victims of fraud is to steer clear of performing financial transactions over unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, whether purchasing something from a website, online banking, or any other form of a financial transaction.

Consumers should also always update their systems and have a commercial anti-virus/anti-malware program installed and running. These two simple things can significantly reduce the risk of your system becoming compromised. Next, when shopping online, consumers should pay with a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards offer additional protections over debit cards, such as zero liability for any fraudulent purchases on your card.

It is also important to disable the browsers’ autocomplete feature. This is the feature of many browsers where it will ask to store the information entered in the browser for future use. In this case, consumers should not want their credit card information stored. Anyone who has access to that system would be able to retrieve it. Do not store credit card information with any online retailer. While it may be convenient for a favorite online store to have credit card information handy, doing so puts the credit card info at risk in the event the site experiences a data breach.

Should a consumer fall victim to cyber fraud, it is important to contact the compromised card's card issuer and alert them immediately. They will deactivate the card and remove any fraudulent charges from the account. If the scammer has obtained sensitive information, such as a social security number, immediately call the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian) and request a credit freeze. When this occurs, the three major credit reporting agencies cannot send out credit information to any company that requests it, essentially preventing new accounts from being opened. It is recommended to keep credit frozen all the time and only temporarily unfreeze it when needed.

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