Keeping safe online during this holiday shopping season

Millions of Americans have already begun shopping for the holiday season at online retail shops large and small.

Also online are scores of bad actors and theives looking to exploit shoppers by stealing their payment information and even identities.

It is estimated that a total of $1.3 billion was lost to online scams and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reportedly received nearly 300,000 online theft complaints last year.

So how can you go about protecting yourself while shopping for loved ones?

Here are six easy tips on keeping safe online:

1. Ensure your website, email, account passwords are secure. This means no using the same password for every website, using your pet’s name, or your phone number. Make your password impossible for a computer to guess. Take a look at one of our previous blog post’s on how to create a strong password.

2. Be wary of email promotions. Be extremely cautious of links, as they can take you to phishing or other scam websites.

3. Shop at reputable places only. It’s easy to want to take advantage of a deal, but when you’re dealing with a company you’ve never heard of, how can you be sure they won’t take your money and run?

4. Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi networks. Your personal information can be easily intercepted by someone with a little know-how.

5. Ensure the website you’re shopping on is secure and encrypted. Otherwise, your information could be intercepted and stolen.

6. Shop with a credit card. Credit card companies will often provide unauthorized purchase protection. So if someone uses your card fraudently, you won’t be liable. Some credit card companies will allow you to generate virtual account numbers, which act as a disposable credit card, so even if the information is stolen, the theif will have his/her hands on non-functioning card information.

Remember, common sense goes a long way. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Likewise, if something seems off, it probably is.

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