After the explosion of online shopping that we've seen throughout the pandemic, it’s likely no surprise to you that more than 60% of U.S. consumers prefer to buy their gifts online. If you’re one of them, it’s vital to keep your personal information secure so that you can avoid the headache of online scams.
With the holidays quickly approaching, here are a few pieces of advice we rounded up for you to consider.
Shop familiar websites. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example). Those are the oldest tricks in the book.
Look for the “S.” Never buy anything using your credit card from a site that doesn't have SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). You'll know a site does because the URL will start with HTTPS—instead of just HTTP.
Consider a password manager. No matter how strong your password is, you’re putting yourself and your personal information at major risk if you use the same one for every site. A password manager like LastPass, 1Password, or Bitwarden creates uncrackable passwords, keeps track of them, and enters them for you.
Check for updates in your antivirus program. Protect against malware by updating your antivirus program. Remember, it's not enough to have it installed—it has to be up-to-date to be effective.
Proceed with caution when shopping on public Wi-Fi. If you're shopping via a public hotspot, stick to known networks. A safer bet? Use a virtual private network (VPN) to hide your true IP address and mask your identity and location.
Be wary of too-good-to-be-true deals. Unusually low prices could be a red flag you’ve landed on a fake site set up to snag your personal information or steal your money.
Don’t give your Social Security number. No retailer should ever ask for your Social Security number. If it does, run!
Use credit when you can. Unlike a debit card, a credit card doesn’t give direct access to your bank account. Plus, most credit cards offer $0 liability for fraud.
If you do get scammed, file a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center—and if we can help you sort it all out in any way, do not hesitate to reach out.
Take care, shop safely, and happy holidays!
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