As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season approaches, people begin visiting local retailers looking for that good deal or special gift. Others may choose to avoid the crowds and shop online.
Shopping online is so convenient because you never have to leave the comfort of your own home. When my kids were young, I spent many Black Fridays out in the cold waiting in line. Now that they’re older, my wife and I can walk to our computer with a cup of coffee and shop until our hearts content.
Today, online shopping is a multibillion-dollar industry. However, with the convenience of online shopping comes the potential for identity theft. Here are some tips to keep you safe while shopping online this holiday season.
Online Holiday Safety Tips
Be wary of public Wi-Fi. If you’re like me, when you’re out and see you have access to free public Wi-Fi, you think, “Yes! I can check out sport scores or catch up on the news free of charge, saving my data.” However, if you plan to shop online, avoid public Wi-Fi and use your cellular data instead.
Make sure your antivirus software is up to date. Unless your antivirus software is set for automatic updates, it may be outdated. Before you begin your online shopping this holiday season, make sure your antivirus software is up to date. Check to see when your software was last updated. If a significant amount of time has passed, do a manual download to get it up to date. And set it to automatically scan for malware on a regular basis
Watch out for email offers. If your inbox becomes inundated with email offers that seem too good to be true, they probably are. Safety experts recommend visiting the retailer’s website to find deals. Email offers with links could be a phishing scam run by hackers.
Do your homework. If you’re ordering from an online retailer for the first time and aren’t familiar with them, do your homework. Look for reviews from other shoppers to see how their online shopping experience was. If you see poor ratings, it’s probably wise to stay away no matter how good the deal is.
Frequently review your accounts. It’s always wise to review your accounts on a regular basis. However, during the holiday shopping season, it’s a good idea to review them more frequently. Online accounts allow us to see transactions up to the minute. If you see something strange, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.
Cold hard cash. If you’re like me, you have more receipts in your wallet than cash. However, if you want to protect yourself from identity theft this holiday season, consider withdrawing money from your local bank and using cash at local retailers for your holiday purchases.
Never share personal information. When buying online, retailers don’t need personal Information, such as date of birth or your social security number. If an online site is asking for this information, leave it immediately. Also, don’t save credit/debit card information on a retailer’s website. Lastly, when you’re finished making a purchase, remember to logout. Create a strong password. To create a strong password, consider using a method or scheme that’s easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess.