It’s never to early to start thinking about, and planning for the holiday shopping season. With Black Friday mere days away, once again, 6 out of 10 Americans will be doing some or all of their holiday shopping online. That about 130 million Americans and growing each and every year. That also equals about a billion transactions, so it’s important you and your identity stay safe and sound while shopping online. Online retailers always offer some great deals from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, so if you follow these simple guidelines you will surely have a “happy holidays.”
Current software updates are a must! Before shopping online, whether it be on a Mac, PC or mobile device, make sure you run software updates to make sure that all of your computer software is up-to-date. Many hackers will try to gain access to your personal and financial information through exploiting vulnerabilities in software that is outdated.
There is a difference, pay with an actual credit card instead of debit card. While both allow you to dispute charges if the merchandise never arrives or if it’s different from what you ordered. But it may take longer to get your money back on a debit card since the amount will have already been deducted from your bank account. Also, some credit card providers offer one-time card numbers to be used for online transactions to further protect your financial information. Contact your account holder to see if they offer such a service if this makes you feel more comfortable.
Secure websites should be used. Look for secure websites for your online holiday shopping. A good way to determine if a website you are using is secure is to check the address of the website in the address bar of your Internet browser. Secure website addresses start with “HTTPS” and indicates that the transaction you are making is via secure encryption. Another indication that the site is secure is that there will be a green padlock in front of the “HTTPS” in the address bar.
Your username and password are the way you access your online accounts. Many online retailers tend to store your credit card information for convenience and further usage, so it’s extremely important to keep these accounts secure with a strong password. Make your password a minimum of eight characters long using different case letters and various numbers. Don’t use a password that represents a birth date, address or phone number. A strong password should be at least eight characters long, a mixture of alphanumeric characters and should never use full words, any personal information such as birth dates, addresses, phone numbers or any other personal information. In addition to using strong passwords, never use the same password across multiple sites.
Be careful using public Wi-Fi, as in, use extreme caution when using a public computer or wireless networks including Wi-Fi hotspots. This includes, but isn’t limited to using computers in airports, libraries or coffee shops. It’s also a good idea to delete visiting history, cache and cookies after use. It’s best to make online purchases on your own secure home of office Wi-Fi.
Another good rule of thumb when it comes to online shopping is, “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” Check the fine print for any deals that look too good, this is very important when looking to buy a new smartphone or tablet. Happy shopping this holiday season!