Merch can make for a good Christmas gift for a passionate music fan. Photo by Matthew Saunders
With Christmas approaching, many people resort to online shopping for their gift giving needs. One of the most popular gift giving ideas in the independent music scene is giving some form of band merchandise.
Merchandise, commonly know as just “merch,” can range from a variety of collectible items. The most common form of merch is a band t-shirt, but merch can range from a variety of practically endless options including, pillow cases, bags of coffee, and candles.
Regardless of what you plan to buy online, proceed with caution. With all of the recent cyber attacks on multi-million dollar franchises, it is now more than ever easier to fall victim to a cyber attack. Here are a few tips to shop safely online this holiday season.
- Always shop on a secure connection
It may be tempting to buy that limited edition vinyl record from your smartphone using Starbuck’s wifi, but I urge you not to. Businesses that offer complementary wifi are often unsecured wifi networks. This means a trained hacker could easily access the personal information on your phone if they want it that badly. Use common sense when shopping online. Always use a trusted, secure connection.
- Know your card
Know how your card works. Know what type of card it is (debit, prepaid or credit), how much money can be used on the card, and refund policies in the event of a cyber attack. The more educated you are on your form of payment, the better defensive strategy you can employ when shopping. Prepaid cards work the best since there is a finite amount on the card and can be used in most cases without the need of personal information.
- Study the website
Always buy from a trusted source. Some trusted stores include MerchNow, Merch Connection and Kings Road Merch. Some artists have their own web stores to increase their profit margin. Most of the time, bands will have the URL of their merch store on one their social media pages. If the band does not explicitly imply they have ties with said website, chances are it is not a good idea to shop there. Also, look at your browser’s address bar. A picture with a lock is a must when putting in credit card information. It means that part of the site is encrypted for privacy. Also, look out for “https:” as that means a webpage is encrypted as well. The add-one “HTTPS Everywhere” can force these sites to appear.
- Monitor your bank statements
It’s good practice if you’re not doing it already. Most of the time, fraudulent charges are in the high figures, but there will be instances where a few dollars here and there will be taken out and these attacks are harder to spot. Look out for them and report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately.
Online shopping can be fast, easy and convenient, but always be cautious and forward thinking. “The best defense is a good offense.”