HuffPost/50 has more tech advice from The Geek Squad and AARP: this week, it's how to stay safe while online shopping.
More than seven out of 10 Internet users are online buyers, according to eMarketer. Boomers spend more online than the 35-to-46 set -- $680 over a three-month period compared to $581 -- Forrester Research reports.
Unfortunately cybercriminals are always on the lookout for ways to interfere with your online shopping experience; AARP reports that 85.7 percent of people 55 and older are concerned about online security and privacy. No matter what device you plan to use -- whether it’s your smartphone, tablet or computer -- you need to protect your personal information to ensure you’re shopping safely and securely online.
With so many tempting deals, especially around Memorial Day sales, Geek Squad offers the following advice to help you prepare for online shopping:
1. Safeguard Your Devices
Using your mobile device to make purchases is a quick, easy way to get ahead of the game, and consumers are taking advantage of this. In fact, ABI Research found that nearly 50 percent of smartphone owners use (or plan to use) their phones for mobile shopping. If you plan to shop on the go, take the proper security precautions:<br /> - Make sure you only shop from reputable retailers and double check the web address before sending your information. <br /> - Some smartphones may default to an open wireless network when available, rather than using up the data from your data plan. Make sure you aren't using an open wireless network when shopping online, as your data there is not secure. That means no crossing off the shopping list while accessing the WiFi connection in your local coffee shop.<br /> -Lock your device with a master password. You should also password protect your device if you are using your credit card to make purchases. If a misplaced device ends up in the wrong hands, you'll be thankful that a secure password is in place. A device that isn't password protected makes it that much easier for a cybercriminal to access your information. As always, make sure you choose a password that attackers won't guess -- no birthdays or addresses!
2. Secure Your Network
Prevent unauthorized access to your PC or laptop from the Internet by installing proper firewall software. Firewalls help keep your PC secure while you surf the Web. They help protect your personal information, and can help block it from being transmitted over the Web. Careful though -- configuring a firewall can be tricky and improperly doing so can prevent any access at all.
3. Avoid Spam
Consumers are increasingly susceptible to spam because they are shopping online more and eager to find good deals. Geek Squad's Advice:<br /> - Do a quick, free diagnostic scan for spyware and viruses by going to the <a href="http://www.geeksquad.com/do-it-yourself/tools/scan-for-viruses-and-spyware.aspx">Geek Squad Security Center</a> <br /> - Do not open an e-mail or click on a link from someone you do not know, and if you see a strange attachment from someone you do know, check with them first to see if they actually sent it. <br /> - When in doubt, retype a website yourself if someone sends it to you. <br /> - Install anti-spyware programs and anti-virus programs. <br /> - Make sure your operating system is up to date. <br />
4. Update Passwords
If the sites you're shopping on require you to register, create a strong password. <br /> <br /> Geek Squad recommends that you treat your password like the key to your front door. Pick a strong password, don't share it and don't write it down. Also: <br /> <br /> - Never use a personal nickname, pet name, birth date, address, or other public information as your password. This information is surprisingly easy to find. <br /> - Never use whole words you find in the dictionary. <br /> - Use different passwords for different websites. <br /> - Take advantage of the shift key, and use the available characters in addition to numbers and capital letters.
5. Keep Your Credit Card Information In Your Wallet
Geek Squad recommends that you NEVER store your credit card or other personal information on websites, which could be vulnerable to hackers and scam artists. However, if you're addicted to the time saving advantage that storing your card information provides, use cards with a low credit limit.
6. Guard Your Gear
Beware of wandering eyes! Keep an eye out for seat neighbors who might try to read your screen if you're browsing in any public place. You may want to think about investing in a privacy screen or filter, which fits easily over your computer's screen, and can be found in all shapes and sizes. Also, never leave your laptop unattended in a public place.