How To Shop Safely Online This Holiday Season
Battle crowded stores and packed parking lots this holiday season or shop from the cozy confines of your sofa?
Chances are you’ll choose the latter to score at least some of your holiday goodies. More than half of all shoppers surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they planned to do at least part of their holiday shopping online.
But while retailers start pushing promotions and shoppers gear up to snag some deals, unscrupulous hackers are also prime and ready to give themselves the gift of your information and money.
Here’s how to put the Grinch on hackers and stay safe online this holiday season.
Heed the hotspots
Watch out for unsecured WiFi hotspots. Don’t share personal or financial information over an unsecured network. And when you’re using a shared network, such as those at coffee shops, make sure you’re accessing the actual network that belongs to the coffee shop, and not a rogue one designed to lure clueless visitors in order to nab their data.
Look for the padlock
When visiting an unfamiliar site to score some holiday deals, look for the padlock in the browser window. That indicates the site is secure. And be mindful of what information websites are asking for and why – make sure it’s a legit request.
Beware the bait
Scammers have been known to disguise viruses as holiday e-cards, so before you click, make sure that Hanukah e-greeting from Aunt Millie really is from her.
Credit before debit
If you can, use a credit card rather than a debit card to make purchases. Credit cards typically offer more protection than a debit card and you can dispute fraudulent charges.
Confirm before you click
Similar logic applies here as to verifying e-cards. Make sure that email with a link to a coupon offering 50 percent off all gift wrap isn’t a way to redirect you to a bogus site. Copy and paste URLs rather than click on them and don’t fill out forms within emails asking for personal or financial information.
Do Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth
The Better Business Bureau has warned shoppers to stay away from unknown online retailers offering discounted gift cards because they could be fakes. Stick to known, trusted retailers if you want to buy gift cards.
Menace in Mobile
Only download apps from legit sites, and check what information they’re asking to access before hitting “install.” It’s debatable whether security apps are necessary for phones, but you can also download one of many claiming to add more protection to your phone.