Next week is going to be a busy week. On Tuesday, Amazon kicks off its two-day shopping event known as Prime Day. At the same time, retailers like Target and BestBuy are holding their own online shopping events. If you're looking to start your holiday shopping a little earlier than in the past, there will be plenty of opportunities to score some deals.
Of course, the hackers are getting ready too. In fact, they're busier than ever trying to ruin your holiday shopping, with more sophisticated schemes to steal your information.
That's according to research from Check Point Research, a security firm that says it has seen a 21 percent increase in fraudulent domains related to Amazon over the last 30 days. That means that hackers are registering domains that look like they're related to Amazon or Prime Day, but instead point to the hacker's site. You can see why there might be a problem as people race to get the best deals, leaving them more likely to click on links they probably shouldn't.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do. Check Point also offers a few suggestions in a blog post published today, and there are a few common-sense ways to stay safe.
When you shop online, make sure you're really at the right place. If you clicked on a link, this is especially true since it might look similar, but the URL is just off. Since hackers are registering domains that are related to Amazon, it can be easy to overlook that you're not actually on the e-commerce giant's site, but instead on one designed to separate you from your personal information.
Make sure that any site you visit to buy online is encrypted using SSL. That means the url will start with "https" and show the little lock icon. Those two indicators mean that the site is what it says it is, and that your information will be kept secure between your computer and the payment processor.
Don't Fall for Too-Good-to-Be-True
The deals on Amazon Prime Day are good, but if you get an email promising something that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Even if the link looks like it could be legitimate, is it really worth it to find out it was a scam and now you have to cancel your credit card because you entered it into a shady site offering a brand new iPhone for half price?
Don't Give Out Extra Information
Most of the sites you shop on regularly allow you to store your payment information. For example, If you're a Prime member, Amazon already has your credit card on file. If you find yourself on a website that appears to be Amazon, but asks you to update or enter your credit card number, that should be a big red flag.
Also, as Check Point reminds us, don't ever enter your bank account information to pay for online purchases. At least with a credit card, if you give the information to the wrong person, you can dispute the charge. If, however they have access to your checking account, they can do a lot more permanent damage.