Online Shopping Safety Tips for the Holiday Season
Monday Dec 06th, 2021
It wasn’t just the pandemic that pushed more people online. Long before covid, more shoppers decided to skip the crowds and simply click for their holiday gifts. With the holiday season in full swing, here are a few tips to help you stay safe now and into the new year.
Holiday Shopping Safety
Whether shopping online or in the store, be sure to utilize smart shopping techniques this holiday season.
1- Never shop on public Wi-Fi networks: This goes for any time you are doing anything sensitive online – not just online holiday shopping. While public Wi-Fi may be convenient, free, and ubiquitous, it’s also a great way to have your sensitive data (i.e. usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, etc.) compromised. It may be fine for checking the score of the ballgame, but it’s not safe for online shopping.
If you want to shop while on the go, disconnect from Wi-Fi and use your 4G or LTE network to connect to your retailer’s website. You can also leverage a virtual private network (VPN). Many companies offer VPNs for users and these VPNs provide some additional security when using public Wi-Fi by encrypting your network communications. They are not fool proof, so if you plan to shop online either do it from your 4G/LTE connection or from a trusted Wi-Fi network, such as your work or home networks.
2- Pay with a credit card, not a debit card: You may be thinking you can avoid getting into debt by paying with your debit card. But a credit card purchase offers more consumer protections than a debit card.
If you pay with a debit card for a service or product that is never received, you have to work with your bank to dispute the charge that has already been deducted from your account. This could mean some time before the transaction is reversed. Your debit card is directly tied to your bank account, and fraudulent transactions can quickly do a lot of damage.
If you don’t have a credit card, use a prepaid debit card to purchase things online.
3- Think before you click: Beware of ads encouraging users to click on links, account warnings, and shipping notifications. If you receive notice or an enticing offer, do not click on the link. Instead, go directly to the company’s website to verify the offer is legitimate.
Do your homework: Cyber thieves are fond of setting up fake e-commerce sites. Prior to making a purchase, read reviews to hear what others say about the merchant. In addition, look for a physical location and any customer service information. It’s also a good idea to call the merchant to confirm that they are legitimate.
4- Watch what you give away: Be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete your transaction. If the merchant is requesting more data than you feel comfortable sharing, cancel the transaction. You only need to fill out required fields at checkout and should never save your payment information in your profile.
5- Secure your device and network: if you allow your browser to store your credit card number, you could be vulnerable. To prevent this, consider turning off the Autofill function in each browser that you use.
In addition, think about using a digital wallet, a payment system housed on your smartphone that makes it possible to conduct electronic transactions using your credit cards. Because digital wallets use encryption, tokenization, and authentication, they have the potential to be safer than carrying a credit card. If you use a digital wallet, make your smartphone hard to unlock by requiring a passcode and fingerprint, where possible, and download an app to help you find your phone in case you lose it.
6- Keep tabs on your bank and credit card statements: Be sure to continuously check your accounts for any unauthorized activity. Good recordkeeping goes hand-in-hand with managing your cybersecurity.
Keep receipts for your purchases and compare the amounts to what you are being charged on your monthly statement; errors have been known to occur. If you noticed any unauthorized transaction, You can ask your credit card company to temporarily withhold payment while it investigates a fraudulent purchase.