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.

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Karen Schmidt

Journalist turned blogger about all things ecommerce, shopping, retail and cyber security.

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1 Response

  1. Tiffany Hunt says:

    The information provided in the article is great and should be shared with everyone. Offers the most important information we you are doing your online shopping over the holidays and in general. Always make sure that you are confirming the URL when you are visiting an unknown site. Also when entering in your information always make sure that there is a padlock located in your URL bar. The padlock is very important to know that your information is going to be encrypted. Another great tip is to check for a Security Seal, this will allow you to know that the site is being scanned for Worms, Hackers and Trojans. For instance the one that Trust Guard offers at http://www.Trust-Guard.com, this will to help ease your nerves when making a purchase over the holidays.