Cyber Expert Offers Tips for Online Shoppers
MCALLEN – A cyber expert explained the holiday season is the time when many online bad guys work hard to steal your personal information.
"I love shopping, I love the holiday season," Alexandra Garcia told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.
She said Black Friday is one of her favorite times of the year. The Brownsville native said she finds joy getting great deals on gifts for her family.
Garcia explained she's found a new favorite way to Black Friday shop in recent years. "Online because it's safer. The people get crazy sometimes so that's why I prefer to do it online," Garcia told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.
Cyber expert Ray Mendoza said online shopping is actually more dangerous when it comes to protecting your personal information. He explained in many cases a harmless advertisement can prove to be extremely harmful to your bank account.
"You'll click on a surreptitious link, and bring it up and you'll never know that behind all that code it's designed to steal your information," Mendoza said.
Mendoza explained it takes moments for bad guys to create a clone website of your favorite online store. He said taking the time to examine the website's address is priceless.
First, he said, you should make sure that address matches the store's name. Next Mendoza said there is a very important icon you should look for. "On the side of the URL, you will see a little padded lock icon. That means it's SSL encrypted and it's a valid authenticated and secure website," Mendoza explained.
Mendoza said he would never put his personal information on a website that didn't have that icon. He explained to be extra careful he recommends not clicking any links to "great deals". Taking a little extra time to type the website of the store can also help ensure you're on a legitimate webpage.
Garcia said she'll be extra careful this Friday.
Mendoza said another tip to staying safe while online shopping is to always use your credit cards rather than debit cards. He explained most credit card companies offer guarantees, that if you report a non-authorized transaction they will cover the cost within 24 hours.
He told CHANNEL 5 NEWS that process takes a lot longer when dealing with banks.