Calgary, AB,

Ten Tips to Stay Safe While Online Shopping

The Calgary Police Service Cyber Forensics Unit is reminding citizens about the importance of cyber security during the holiday shopping season.

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holidays fast approaching, CPS wants Calgarians to be aware of the risks associated with online shopping so they can better protect themselves. Shopping online can be extremely convenient during this busy season and is often very secure. However, it’s important that shoppers know how to recognize cybercrimes and safeguard themselves from becoming a victim.

So far this year, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reports that Canadians have lost over $32 million to email, internet, social media and text message scammers. The Centre also estimates that only five per cent of all frauds are reported to them.

Here are the ten things to think about when shopping online this holiday season:

  1. Beware of public Wi-Fi. Never access sensitive information or input your personal/financial information on public Wi-Fi as you never know who else may also be using the network.
  2. Update your antivirus software. Keep your antivirus software and web browsers up-to-date and ensure your firewall is active, so that it is equipped to recognize and fight new viruses that are always adapting.
  3. Look for the lock symbol. Make sure you have a secure connection in your browser by looking for the lock symbol in the address bar, or making sure that the URL you are attempting to access begins with “https” (s for secure).
  4. Use strong passphrases. The strongest passwords are those made up of phrases and include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. You should change your passwords on a routine basis and anytime an account has been compromised.
  5. Use two-factor authentication. You should use this where possible as it provides an extra layer of security when logging in to an account. An example would be needing to provide information only you have access to, or a confirmation key sent to your phone along with your password.
  6. Be wary of unexpected emails. Phishing emails can look very legitimate and often ask you to report a problem with a purchase you haven’t made, validate an account or threaten taking action. Never click on any links and verify the request by contacting the company through an email or phone number you have used before.
  7. Lock your devices. Make sure that all mobile devices and computers have a password to prevent other people from logging on to them when you are not using them.
  8. Protect your personal information. Only provide the information that is needed, and never anything more. On mobile devices, it is a good idea to install an app that will allow you to remote wipe your device if it is lost.
  9. Check your bank statements. Regularly check your bank statements and report any fraudulent activity to your financial institution immediately. You should also check your credit score at least once a year to make sure you are not a victim of identity fraud.
  10. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers will try to take advantage of your good nature, especially during the holiday season. If something doesn’t feel right or if the transaction doesn’t seem fair, it’s probably a scam.

If you have lost money, property or have been the victim of a legitimate threat, you can report it to the Calgary Police Service at 403-266-1234, or 9-1-1 in an emergency.

Fraud can also be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501 or online through the following link