The holiday season is upon us, and it’s time to shop. Every year on Black Friday consumers wake up early and head out to get the best deals on holiday gifts. More and more, though, they are doing the shopping online from home, with some sleeping in or getting up at 3am to get the best deals! I read recently that Forrester Research predicts this year’s online retail shopping to increase 15% from last year to over 68 billion dollars. A lot of this growth will probably be owed to the fact that it’s much easier to shop and buy anywhere, at any time via a smartphone or tablet, so consumers are choosing that route. Increased online shopping traffic unfortunately, means more scammers… With that in mind, I thought I’d outline some ways to stay safe shopping via mobile.
First, some stats on the growth of using mobile devices for shopping from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and McAfee: In the last six months, thirty-percent of Americans have researched potential purchases using a smartphone; 33 percent conducted mobile banking; 27 percent shopped; 25 percent made online payments; and seven percent purchased goods from an auction site. What’s troubling, though, is that of those that have shopped online via mobile, most (63%) don’t have any security software installed on their mobile device.
That brings me to my number one piece of advice: for any device you use to shop, especially your smartphone and tablet, be sure you have up-to-date software including security software and operating systems. Doing so will keep you safe from viruses and malware that are out to get your personal and financial information. If you don’t have security software, don’t shop.
The holidays will also be the time you’ll see a lot of emails or see social media ads on your smartphone about great deals — like 95% off that television you want – but think before you click the link. If it’s from an unknown source, do not click anything, and send it to your junk folder.
The final thing I want to mention is with regards to WiFi. If you are on a public WiFi network, do not shop. It’s very easy for a hacker to eavesdrop and steal your private information.
The ability to browse, shop and buy on our mobile devices has brought us to an exciting new era of more convenient shopping. But with great convenience comes great responsibility – let’s all stay vigilant about staying secure while shopping online.