6 tips to keep you safe online this holiday season

The holidays are upon us, and you know what that means.  Lots and lots and lots of shopping.

For serial shoppers, this is great news.  For everyone else out there, not so much.  And for those people who are filled with dread, they’ll do as much online shopping as they possibly can.  Which isn’t a bad thing, but it does come with a certain amount of risk.

When you shop online, it doesn’t matter how well you hide your card as you type the numbers into the browser.  A hacker from across the world can swipe it in mere seconds and with minimal hassle.  shopping-phoneBecause of this, you must know what it takes to shop online safely.  Here are a few simple tips to get you started.

Check for the lock icon.

When you’re shopping on a website, you should always make sure there’s a lock symbol present in the address bar.  If there isn’t one present, then don’t buy anything.  The lock symbol basically indicates that the site is secure and that your data will be encrypted while in transit.  This means that someone would have a really hard time snatching up your information and understanding what it is.

Use credit cards.

It’s always a good idea to shop with credit cards rather than debit cards and for a few reasons.  For starters, if a hacker gains access to your credit card information, you don’t want them to have the ability to drain out your personal bank account.  It’d be better if they just maxed out your credit card instead.  Also, credit card companies usually have better fraud protection services – for example, they give you a longer period to alert the company of a potential fraudulent charge.

Make sure everything is up-to-date.

If you are going to do any shopping online, make sure your browser and device of choice are completely up-to-date.  Updates are pushed out for good reasons, like patching security vulnerabilities.  If these vulnerabilities don’t have to be there, then don’t allow them to be there.

Keep track of your statements.

Whether you’re shopping in the store or online, you should always keep track of your bank statements – especially during such a busy shopping season.  The sooner you spot fraudulent charges and suspicious activity, the better off you’ll be.

Avoid unknown websites.

Yeah, sure.  You might want this really funny shirt off this really random website for your second cousin twice removed – but is it really worth credit card fraud?   Probably not.  Do your best to avoid websites you don’t really know all that well.  Stick to larger websites, like Amazon, Target, and Etsy.  Not only are these websites typically more secure, but they can usually back you up if something goes awry during the purchasing process.

Steer clear of public Wi-Fi.

Public Wi-Fi isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.  Skilled hackers can set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots, and once you connect to a fake hotspot, the creator will have the ability to monitor everything you type and everywhere you go.  Which is certainly not good.  Never access financial information or shop online when you’re on-the-go and connected to public Wi-Fi.  Only do these things on a trusted connection.

If you have any questions or doubts, contact us and we’re more than happy to help! (913) 210-1950.

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