The holiday shopping season is in full swing and our pals at BitDefender are here to share best practices for safe holiday shopping!

Shopping via mobile devices and through social media instead of using home and office computers is a new trend this year. According to the MobileMarketing Association, 59 percent of consumers plan to use their mobile device for holiday shopping and planning. A separate study found 54 percent of retailers plan to use social media to reach consumers during the holidays this year. With so much holiday activity happening around mobile and social media sites, just as consumers need to know about deals, they also need to know how to avoid scams.

Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Be wary of the small screens on mobile devices — The small screen on mobile devices make it hard to see a full URL. A link may begin with a legitimate store name but actually redirects you to a malicious site.
  • Avoid unknown messages on social media sites — Don’t click unsolicited links that come through social media sites. Social media messages are no different than email inboxes.  Treat messages from friends or strangers that direct you to another website as spam.
  • Keep private info to yourself — Don’t share personal information such as phone numbers and addresses.  Be selective when choosing friends and followers. Set the strictest privacy settings available.
  • Social research not referrals — Social media is a great resource for researching gift ideas but be wary of clicking links. More than 50 percent of people recommend a product or service on social media sites and hackers take advantage of this. Be aware there’s a big difference between “the iPad is a great gift!” and “click here for a free iPad.”
  • Too good to be true? Run a background check— Found a price or product from an unknown site that’s too good to be true and you’re not sure if the site is legit? Check it out on respected review sites as well as with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Avoid purchases while surfing on public Wi-Fi — It’s fine to search for gifts while sipping a peppermint latte at the coffee shop, but don’t enter personal information while you’re out and about.  Open networks mean a hacker could easily steal information like usernames, passwords and credit card numbers. If that deal is too great to pass up, make sure “HTTPS” appears in the URL before adding any payment details.
  • Be charitable, give reputably — Social media messaging and text messaging are great ways to donate to your favorite charities during the holidays. However, hackers have proven they are quick to take advantage of these methods.  They have been known to set up fake charities that divert your donation to their bank account or convince you to perform some malicious actions, like visiting a certain website or installing a certain application. Double check that your gift is going to a reputable charity by checking out the website and searching the Net for any scams that might be associated.
  • Use protection — While preparing for the holidays – whether planning a party, shopping for gifts or posting photos – protect yourself against malware and privacy leaks with BitDefender’s safego Facebook security app.  The new safego scans for viruses in messages and on your wall.  It also provides alerts to privacy settings that may be exposing information. It’s the best way to stay safe on Facebook this holiday season.

From everyone at BitDefender…Have a happy holiday season and we wish you safe shopping now and throughout the year!

For more information about keeping yourself and your family safe online, visit BitMoms.com, a community dedicated to providing free resources and a place for parents to seek advice about keeping children safe on the internet.

I am sharing this information as a BitMom Blog Network Member.  No compensation was received for this post, however, I do receive a stipend to attend a blogging conference of my choice.