Don’t get schooled by cybercriminals

Tips for protecting yourself during the back-to-school shopping frenzy

Summer is speeding by and the first day of school is just around the corner. For teachers, parents and many others, that means it’s time to stock up on pencils, notebooks, laptops and new duds.

Yes, back-to-school shopping season is already upon us, and don’t think fraudsters aren’t in on the game. Any time there is a flurry of seasonal online shopping activity, you can bet there are bad actors waiting to capitalize and cash in on all the activity.

Although a recent Deloitte study found that most people still buy school supplies (66 percent) in brick-and-mortar stores, 61 percent of shoppers say they plan to research online before making a purchase at a physical store. And, nearly 40 percent of folks who say they will be doing their supply shopping online.

So how do you stay safe?

Here are a few tips for merchants and organizations selling online:

Don’t look for the needle in the haystack. You have more good users than bad ones. Organizations that understand their good users know that fraud reveals itself as part of the process, you don’t have to go find it.

Don’t overlook gift cards. Guessing gift card numbers or testing through many gift cards can be a sign of fraudulent activity. Treat gift cards like you would any other payment method when it comes to verification and authentication.

Watch out for “aged” online accounts that have never been used before, or have sat dormant for some time, and then suddenly become active. Cybercriminals are patient and they’ll create accounts that sit dormant until the timing is right.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. There’s still time to audit your online security in advance to test for load, security loopholes and account protection. Go in knowing what your system can handle and be prepared for contingencies.

Look for unusual spiky volumes and high rates of declines. The perfect cover for hackers testing accounts or testing through stolen credit cards is during high traffic load periods.

For the shoppers, there are some tips to help keep you safe as well:

Stick with websites you trust. When it comes to online shopping, make sure you use a site that is security-enabled. The url will contain https:// or https://, or a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar. Yes, that website you’ve never heard of may be offering some super dirt-cheap bargains, but remember the old adage – if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

If the site looks shady, don’t. Trust goes both ways.

Turn off your computer when you’re done. Leaving your computer connected to the Internet when it’s not in use could hand 24/7 access to the bad guys to play with.

Don’t use unsecured Wi-Fi to make purchases. No public Wi-Fi for anything involving your personally identifiable information. ‘Nuff said.

Download the security updates. Do it while you’re sleeping. Done!

Think twice before posting on social. Why give them any ammo to access your accounts?

Logout. Logout. Logout. And use strong passwords. B@k.2sch00l!

New account, new password! Use a different password everywhere, Yes, it’s a pain. Identity theft is even more of a pain.

For consumers, The U.S. National Cybersecurity Alliance has a great infographic, and for Canadians, Canada’s Get Cyber Safe website offers additional tips for families to stay safe when it comes to cybersecurity and going back to school.

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