Tips for Secure Holiday Online Shopping

crime prevention tips for safe online shopping

The holiday shopping season is here, and criminals use this busy time to prey upon consumers and businesses who are unsuspecting or unprepared. Here are some tips for a secure holiday online shopping season:

Software and Antivirus updates: No matter what device you shop from, the operating system and antivirus updates should be installed as soon as they are available to protect yourself online.

Account passwords: Passwords to online shopping sites and other accounts should be changed regularly and the same password should not be used on multiple accounts. If offered by the site, take advantage of multi-factor authentication for an added layer of security. Passwords on home networking equipment such as Wi-Fi routers should be changed from the default password they are configured with from the factory.

Payment cards: Credit cards should be used instead of debit cards. Credit cards have better protections for the consumer if fraud occurs. Debit cards have no limit to the amount of loss the consumer can suffer. Verify online transactions by checking your credit card and banking statements routinely.

Use of Public Wi-Fi: Online shopping or banking should NOT be conducted over publicly available Wi-Fi networks. While the network in a restaurant, coffee shop or store may require a password, there is no guarantee as to how secure the network is or who may be monitoring and intercepting your online transactions.

Beware of Phishing Emails and Social Engineering: This is the time of year when our inboxes are flooded with offers of all sorts, which increases the possibility of encountering fraudulent websites and emails. Avoid opening attachments and clicking on links within emails from senders you do not recognize. Be wary of emails or calls requesting that you verify your account by providing information such as your login, password, account number. Legitimate businesses will never call you or email you directly for that information.

Who you conduct business with online: Extra consideration should be given to merchants and businesses you provide your personal and payment card information to online. Reputable and established online businesses use encryption, such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL), to protect your information as it is transmitted to and from your computer or device. Certificate “errors” can be a warning sign that something is not right with the website. When shopping from your phone, only consider vetted apps from trusted businesses.