Expert offers ways to shop smart, safe online

Scammers use emails, texts, social media to trick online shoppers.


Cyber Monday shoppers aren't the only ones trying to find some real steals.  So are scam artists.

"Scammers want to get your personal information, your banking information. That is their primary concern," said Kevin Kjosa, assistant director of the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security.

He offered the following advise for shopping online this holiday season:

Look for the lock.  In the browser, look for the lock or the https to indicate a secure website.

"That indicates your interaction is encrypted and also, the company has gone through some due diligence to be be sure it's a legitimate business," Kjosa said.

Beware email  and text message deals. Scammers can rip off corporate logos and create emails that appear to come from a trusted source.   Bad spelling or grammar can be a tip-off. 

Do not click on links in emails.

"Go ahead and verify by typing the URL yourself," he said. "It's all about trust. Do you trust those that are asking you for your business?"

Be wary of Wi-Fi. While shopping over lunch may be convenient, you don't want your credit card number on a public or unsecure network for any hacker to grab.

"It's probably best these days to use your cellular data when shopping with your smart phone or tablet device," Kjosa said.

Swindlers are social, too.  Keep in mind that social network can be an  opportunity for scam artists. Just because your friend liked a deal, doesn't make it legit.

"There's a trust between you and your friends in social media, so therefore, that credibility is heightened," Kjosa said.

Use credit, not debit. When buying, use a credit card instead of a debit card so you can dispute charges you did  not make.

Update security software.

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