man holding phone with security alert
15 December 2020

It’s also important that you make sure you are up-to-date on your software. Typically, software updates are designed to fix bugs and security issues that have been discovered. It’s a simple step that can save you major hassle later on. So the next time you see your computer needs to update, take the extra 15 minutes to do so. It’s good to have that line of protection.

You’ll also want to be aware of the wireless network your computer or mobile device is connected to while shopping online. While it’s generally safer to shop from your home or other trusted network, you’ll want to avoid these actions when you’re on a public network found at an airport or coffee shop. Using a public network makes you more susceptible to having your information stolen.

If you have to buy something online when you’re out and about, consider using your cell phone data instead of a public network so that your information stays safe. You could also use a VPN (virtual private network) if you need to use public WiFi, which provides an encrypted connection.


Don’t Click on Pop-Up Ads or Unsolicited Email Links

Think before you click! If you receive an email and don’t recognize the name of the person or company that sent it, then you should be cautious before opening the email or clicking the links inside. There’s a good chance that you might be opening yourself up to receiving viruses or malware. Even if you do recognize the sender or store, ask yourself if the information in the email makes sense. Look for typos or grammatical errors and always hover over links to check where it wants to direct you. If you notice anything that seems out of the ordinary, delete the email.

In a similar vein, you’ll also want to avoid clicking on pop-up ads. If you’re interested in the items referenced in the ad, try searching for the product on the company’s website. When possible, we recommend purchasing items directly from a company’s website or mobile application.


Get Protection from Cyber Threats

It is vital to keep your personal information safe. At the end of the day, remember that you should give out as little information as possible when shopping online. Typically, all that should be necessary is your name, shipping address, payment information, email address, and perhaps a phone number. No site should need your birthdate and place of birth, or Social Security number to complete an online purchase.With the holidays approaching, you’re likely receiving emails about store sales, online promotions and limited-time offers. With the popularity and convenience of online shopping increasing every year, and the rising need for social distancing, this may be the way you’re planning to shop for holiday gifts.

While shopping from the comfort of your own home is convenient, it’s important to be cautious and aware so that you don’t fall prey to scams and fraudsters.

With a few smart online shopping tips, you can protect your personal information all while completing your shopping with ease.


How to Spot Cyber Threats

The best way to spot cyber threats is to be aware. Just as you pay attention to the people around you when you’re in a public place, you should also pay attention online.

Two questions you can ask yourself are, “Does something look out of the ordinary or seem off?” and, “Is this a store or website that consumers frequently shop at?” These questions can help you start thinking about potential threats and will put you in the mindset to spot one.

When shopping online, you should take a moment and question when something seems too good to be true. For example, if you discover a deal advertising two laptops for $200 when the actual retail price is over $1,000 for one, then it’s probably not a trustworthy site.

Another sign that can alert you of a cyber-threat is if a business doesn’t have an email address, phone number, or address for a physical location. If there is a phone number, it’s always worthwhile to look it up and make sure it actually belongs to that store.


Only Shop from Secured Sites and Legitimate Retailers

Aren’t sure if the site you’re shopping on is trustworthy? Check out the beginning of the website address to make sure it is a secured site. Does it say “https”? If so, then that means the site is encrypted, and any personal information that you enter will be secure.

However, if you just see “http” with no “s” at the end, then you’ll want to avoid using that website because your personal or financial information will not be secure. Even if you’ve found the perfect gift for a relative on a site that doesn’t have the “s” included, it isn’t worth the risk of purchasing it there because your information could be compromised.


Protect Your Information While Shopping

When purchasing items online, you may want to use a credit card or a payment service because they are not linked to a checking account like your debit card is. By linking your Teachers credit card to a payment service such as PayPal or Apple Pay, you’ll be much safer should you have the unfortunate event of your information getting hacked, because they don’t have direct access to your checking accounts.

Finally, you can reach out to us at Teachers Federal Credit Union for assistance in identifying potential scammers. Be sure to forward any suspicious emails to, and we can help protect you from cyber threats. We’ll be able to let you know if the email is a scam or if it’s legitimate.


Final Thoughts

Follow these tips and you should be able to avoid cyber threats during this holiday season. Even if you’re not completely sure if something is a scam or not, err on the side of caution. The more you know, the more you can be confident your information is kept safe and you can enjoy the holidays worry-free!