There’s no doubt you’ll be doing some, if not all, of your holiday shopping online this year. While most of us do it, statistics show that only 29% of us have privacy concerns. You may be in the holiday spirit, but there are others who come out during this season looking to hack and steal identities. Reports from 2016 show that $16 billion was stolen from about 15 million U.S. consumers. Exercise caution during your shopping because as we all know, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Passwords, passwords, passwords
Even though it might be easier to reuse the same password for almost every account, change this habit! Each time you create a password it should be unique, complicated, and only used for one account. Use a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. It’s also a good idea to completely overhaul your current passwords before we’re fully in the swing of the holidays.
Don’t save your information
Many websites boast a faster, hassle-free checkout if you simply have them save your credit card information. This may be tempting, but just don’t do it. You lose control of your information when a third party site saves it for you. Take the extra two minutes to find your card and enter in its information when confirming an online purchase.
Finalize purchases at home
Sure, it can be a blast to sit at Starbucks and scroll through gift ideas while you enjoy your beverage. Just make sure you don’t actually purchase anything while using public wifi. Not many of us have access to a VPN, so it’s safer to brainstorm your ideas while in a public space, but don’t do any purchasing until you’re home. Even then, double check that your URL reads https:// and make sure there is a padlock in the address bar. If you don’t see either of these, you’ll want to cancel that order and try again somewhere else.
Don’t follow email links
Countless scams are conducted via email. If there’s a great deal being advertised, then it should be visible on the company’s website. Avoid following links, shortened bitly links, or coupon codes, especially if you see it on social media first.
Stay up-to-date on all your accounts
You should consistently monitor your bank accounts all year round, but be extra diligent during the holidays. Monitor the purchases you’ve made and cross reference your receipts to ensure everything lines up. Use a credit card to make online purchases; this way, the money is not withdrawn directly from your account. If there is a purchase that doesn’t look familiar, contact your bank immediately to rectify the situation.
Use websites you trust
Just as you would be weary of a brick and mortar store if something felt a bit off, exercise this same caution online. If you can, stick with trusted, big-name stores like Amazon. Many times the apps from places like these have an extra layer of security, so consider using them to make purchases if you have to while in public.
We wish you didn’t have to worry about something as negative as identity theft during your holiday shopping, but unfortunately it’s a real threat. Use caution and be smart about any online purchases, and this season will pass by smoothly!