We are getting into the busiest shopping time of the year and many of us like to do as much of our holiday buying online as possible. All that online activity also makes it prime time for cybercriminals, scams and hackers, but there are some simple things you can do to make sure you, your devices and your loved ones are safe and protected.
These tips can help you shop safely this holiday season.
- Be password smart - Some shopping sites require you to create a login with a username and password and since remembering all those passwords can be a challenge, you may be tempted to recycle the same one over and over. Don’t! The thing is, hackers know people use the same passwords, so when they get access to your info at one retailer, they quickly try to use it at other similar sites. To avoid having to remember multiple passwords, the best solution is to use a password manager to create strong, secure passwords and remember them for you.
- Use familiar websites - If you know the site, it’s less likely to be a shady site. Watch for misspellings or sites using a different domain, like .net instead of .com. Sure, these unknown sites may offer tempting sales, but that’s how they trick you into giving up your information, so shop where you know you’re safe.
- Don’t overshare online - If online stores ask for more personal information than they need, be wary. You may want to reconsider buying from a site that asks for data that’s not necessary for the transaction, but if you want to proceed, fill in the required fields with made-up info.
- Avoid public Wi-Fi - While you can shop electronically from just about anywhere, you’re better off doing your shopping from home. When you use public Wi-Fi at a cafe or shopping center, there’s always a chance your transaction could be being watched by a scammer. One way to improve your security when you’re out and about is by turning off your Wi-Fi and just using cellular data while shopping.
- Watch your back - Anytime you take your credit card out in public and start typing the number in, prying eyes nearby can take the opportunity to see and memorize your number. So try to sit with your back to the wall and keep your screen hidden, or better yet, use your password manager to fill in saved credit card info and keep your card in your wallet.