We are moving into the Christmas season and the time of holiday shopping. Many people choose to shop at their local mall. Many people are also shopping online. Holiday shopping can be irresistable and exciting. With so many online deals, it's no wonder that millions of consumers are looking to buy gifts at their local retailers online. However, shopping online brings along a lot of potential opportunities for hackers and thieves to steal your credit card and bank info. If you take a few simple precautions, your online shopping experience will be safe and successful. Don't let fake companies and identity thieves dampen your holiday spirit.
Make sure your computers are virus protected.
Make sure your anti-virus/anti-malware programs are not only installed, but are currently up-to-date. Make sure your wireless network is password-protected so outsiders can’t easily access your network.
Choose secure passwords.
This is one of the easiest ways to protect your identity online. If someone has the password to your account, they can log in, change the shipping address, and order things while you get stuck with the bill. Use a complex combination of numbers, upper and lower-case letters, including symbols. Passwords should not include any personal information that can be easily guessed (last name, birthdates kid's names, pet’s name, etc.) Your password should NEVER include any combination of digits from your social security number. Lastly, you should use different passwords across personal accounts, online retailers and work, that way if a hacker breaks one password they don’t have total access into your life.
Use credit only. NEVER use debit.
Using a debit card gives one direct access to your checking account. A thief could easily drain your entire account using your debit card. There are more protections available for credit card and these companies generally resolve fraud claims in favor of the consumer. Keep in mind when using credit cards, to constantly review your accounts for any unauthorized use and report unusual activity if your bank doesn’t flag it automatically.
Make sure your connection is secure.
Check the left-hand side of the web address in your browser when visiting the website of an online retailer. There should be a green lock icon and the word “Secure” before “https:” If you see this, then your information, like passwords and credit card numbers, is private when sent to the site.
Watch out for email scams.
It might be tempting to open an email that promises a “special offer.” But that offer could be special in a bad way. Clicking on emails from unknown senders and unrecognizable sellers could infect your computer with viruses and malware. It’s better to play it safe. Delete them, don’t click on any links, and don’t open any attachments from individuals or businesses you are unfamiliar with.