The holiday season is the perfect time to shop online. However, while you might enjoy the convenience of online shopping, there are a lot of dangers you should watch out for while purchasing items from the Internet.
Cybercriminals are lurking everywhere and can use sneaky tactics to entice shoppers to give up personal information. Here are a few tips for how you can remain cybersafe this holiday shopping season.
Use your credit card or a virtual credit card
So many of us have made this mistake in the past, but if you are not shopping with a credit card or a virtual credit card you can leave personal information vulnerable. When shopping online, you should never use your debit card to make a payment. Making debit card payments can lead cybercriminals back to your personal information. Let’s say you make a purchase from a secure site and pay with a debit card that is attached to your bank account.
That company now has your personal information and could possibly access your bank account. While this usually isn’t a problem because most company websites are reliable, your information has the potential to be vulnerable if this company were to ever experience a data breach. If there is a breach, cybercriminals could have some of your personal information. By providing a credit card instead, you won’t be as responsible if you monitor your accounts properly. That way you can notify your credit card provider and handle the issue before it’s too late.
Using a virtual credit card is also a smart option. Virtual credit cards allow you to use your credit card without exposing your real account numbers. Many banks offer these services by providing consumers with a temporary credit card number to use for a purchase online. While the temporary card is only activated for a limited amount of time, it allows you to make purchases in that time frame without revealing any personal information.
Don’t visit unsecure websites
While we might think a majority of websites are safe to visit, that may not always be the case. Making sure that the sites you visit are secure is extremely important when you’re online shopping. An easy way to tell if a website is secure is by looking at a URL beginning with “https.” Websites who are missing the “s” and start with “http” instead, are unsecure networks. Always look for an “s” for secure or a lock icon next to the UTL prior to visiting or shopping from a site.
While knowing this is a good rule of thumb for safe to access sites, you can purchase software that will help block any unsafe websites and the dangers that come with them. Antivirus software is used to protect your device and personal information from hackers who are looking to download viruses and malware to your devices. This software scans your device and removes any harmful files that have been unknowingly placed on a device.
Use the most up-to-date software
We’ve all been guilty of not updating our software as soon as we should. With so many updates released on a regular basis, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the software you should be downloading. However, you should always update your software whenever there’s an update. Think of them as revisions and edits on mistakes program developers got wrong the first time around. Updates correct any security holes that might be lurking in your current software. With updates, you can make sure that your data and devices are protected by the latest and greatest systems.
Check your statements regularly
Checking your account statements is something most of us do at the end of the month when our bills are due. This is a typical mistake. Checking account records at the end of the month can leave room for error when it comes to catching unauthorized payments. Keeping your own records of your transactions is a best practice we all should follow, but it’s especially important in catching any fraudulent charges.
The faster you catch these false charges, the easier it is to recover. Letting your bank know about the fraudulent charges is important in order to get your money back but it is also helpful so they can know if this has happened to other accounts as well. Be careful and frequently check all of your accounts, so you don’t have to worry about anyone having your information, or worse, stealing your identity.
No one is 100 percent safe while shopping, whether you choose to purchase an item online or in a store. However, there are ways that you can make sure your sensitive information is secure by staying on top of your account records, keeping away from unsecure sites, and using software to protect your devices. If you remember these tips this holiday season, you’ll be sure to shop safe and keep your personal information secure.
Meanwhile, check out the infographic below.