Online Consumer Safety Tips


As California’s Homeland Security Agency, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) wants to encourage all Californians to remain vigilant when sharing confidential personal information online. Personal information includes, but is not limited, your name, birthday, email, street address and credit/debit card information.

Every day, Californian’s are the targets of cybercrimes, with bad actors aiming to steal personal consumer data. Scammers are growing increasingly sophisticated, TV advertisements and taking advantage of crisis situations like natural disasters are just some of the ways that scammers have attempted to collect personal information from Californians.

There are several steps that you can take to protect you and loved ones from being the targets of cybercrimes or having your data stolen by a bad actor.

  • Research the companies you may make purchases though:
    • Does the company have an association to a foreign government? Does their supply chain use ethical forms of labor practices? Is the company in legal trouble for attempting to steal data from consumers?
  • Don’t click on links from unfamiliar or unsolicited emails or on online advertisements.
  • Check your online privacy settings, including your website browser and mobile phone, to limit what these companies can access.
    • Ask yourself do I need to give this app access to your location or photo gallery?
  • Don’t save payment details on your account and consider using payment aggregators such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay or PayPal to make purchases with online retailers. By using your payment aggregators system, you can prevent your personal transaction information from being shared to online retailers.
      • Payment aggregators encrypts your payment information, protecting your private information.
  • If you see a pop up and online advertisement for a deal, visit the website independently.
  • If a huge discount seems too good to be true, independently check the website for the deal or check online to see if other websites are mentioning the huge discount.
  • Create a separate new email address for websites you don’t fully trust.
    • Creating a separate email address can help protect your personal information and reduce the amount of spam messages on your personal email address from websites you don’t fully trust.
  • Make online purchases on a trusted Wi-Fi network. Bad actors can use public Wi-Fi networks to seal data and distribute malware.