We’re counting down the days to the holidays and, chances are, you’re planning to make a few gift purchases online. And, why wouldn’t you? There’s every reason in the world to shop online. The bargains, the mind-boggling selection, fast and, often free, shipping. Shopping online has never been more convenient! Don’t let the comfort of online shopping turn you complacent. Cybercriminals are more sophisticated than ever and are using clever tricks to easily fool consumers into visiting fake stores or opening phishing emails.  

Here are seven holiday shopping tips to help you stay secure online this season.

  1. Shop Only With Reputable Companies

    Stick with companies you know and trust. That said, new companies are born each day, so before you hit that “buy” button, confirm the company is legitimate and that they take security seriously. For example, make sure their website URL begins with “https” rather than “http.” The extra “s” indicates an added level of security.

     

  2. Don’t Shop on Public Wi-Fi

    Public network connections are risky for a few reasons. It’s hard to be sure others aren’t scanning the network’s activity and collecting users’ personal or financial data. Even if it seems like a trustworthy public Wi-Fi, it’s still best to avoid it and to always assume public Wi-Fi is insecure.  

     

  3. Avoid Offers That Are “Too Good to Be True”

    Trust your gut on items that feel too good to be true. Don’t shop at online stores that give you a bad feeling or appear shady. If you feel they’re asking for too much personal information, end the transaction and leave the site before you compromise your shopping safety. You might be bummed to leave behind what seems like a great deal, but the money and time you could lose if someone gets your credit card information will definitely cancel the benefits of a too-good-to-be-true sale cost.

     

  4. Check Your Credit Card Statements Regularly

    During the holiday season, go online and regularly check your credit card account. Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Look for fraudulent charges and check other payment sites you use, too, like PayPal or Venmo. You should also only buy online with a credit card. If your debit card is compromised, scammers might have direct access to your bank funds. If you see something wrong, address the matter quickly. Likely, you have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems.

     

  5. Don’t Give Your Social Security Number to a Retailer

    A shopping website will never need your Social Security number. If you’re asked to provide that type of personal detail, end the transaction immediately and find a new site for your holiday buys.

     

  6. Be Wary of Holiday Shopping Scam Emails

    Your inbox is likely filled with holiday consumer cravings and hot savings. Before clicking on emails from unknown senders, look for signs that indicate they’re valid. It’s better to play it safe and avoid clicking on emails that could infect your computer with viruses and malware.

     

  7. Don’t Let Shopping Sites Save Your Information

    It can feel time-consuming to re-enter your information each time you shop and to retrieve your wallet for your credit card every time you buy online. However, the more a website knows about you, the more information you risk losing in a data breach. Also, unless you thoroughly read the site’s privacy policy, you don’t know how much of your information is being shared with or sold to third parties.

In today’s world, the chance of having your personal identification stolen or exposed to cyber-criminals is ever-increasing. It’s important to take precautions by following these holiday shopping safety tips this season to avoid identity theft. Your Farm Bureau agent can help. Something as valuable as your identification deserves protection. Consider adding ID Theft Protection to your homeowner’s insurance for an added layer of security.