The holidays are filled with fun activities, time with loved ones and lots of online shopping. As you find the perfect gifts for your family and friends, make sure you’re not compromising your personal information. Identity theft is a real threat that can produce stress as well as financial loss. By enacting these top safety tips for online shopping, you can enjoy the season of giving and shop securely.
1. Use a Secure Network
The first rule of online purchasing is using a secure network. Never purchase from sites without SLL encryption installed. Sites with this start with HTTPS as opposed HTTP — look for that additional “S” in the URL before you buy. HTTPS sites provide an extra layer of protection and are the standard for websites. Any site without SLL encryption should not be used for online shopping as your information is less secure and more vulnerable to cybercriminals.
2. Avoid Phishing E-Mails and Promotions
You may receive advertisements and e-mails offering amazing deals. Some of these will appear to be sent from a recognizable brand name store. However, phishing e-mails will often contain telltale signs that they are not genuine and are instead looking to gain your personal information.
Signs of a phishing e-mail or promotion include:
- A similar but different URL than the supposed brand store
- A sense or urgency to click or buy
- An unfamiliar tone or sender
3. Buy From Reputable Stores
If you want to avoid falling prey to cybercriminals, you should only trust your personal information with reputable stores. Recognizable brand names are a safer bet when purchasing online, as they have a strong reputation. Unknown stores pose a higher potential for loss of personal information or failure to receive the purchased goods. Read customer reviews before you choose to checkout on a lesser-known store.
4. Use a VPN
Public and free Wi-Fi may be convenient, but it lacks the security you need to shop online. Cybercriminals are able to hack into unsecured networks more easily, making your credit card information more accessible. A VPN provides anonymous online browsing by encrypting your search traffic. Anonymous browsing is safer browsing. Be sure to use a VPN when browsing in public or wait to make the purchase until you are home.
5. Upgrade Your Digital Security Measures
If you make purchases online or like to shop on the go, look into LifeLock and consider investing in their identity theft protection services. This is a proactive approach to secure your information, your money and your identity. A variety of services are available to add a layer of protection when shopping online.
Benefits of these services can include:
- VPNs for anonymous online activity
- Bank and credit card alerts
- Dark web scans
- Alerts to crimes in your name
- Reimbursement policies for stolen funds
6. Protect Your Personal Information
Don’t overshare online. Beware of websites that require you to enter personal information beyond your card, e-mail and shipping information. This information is unnecessary for purchasing items and can point to a potential scam to steal your identity. Think twice before submitting your personal information and question what information is required for your online purchases.
Don’t let the season of giving deter you from taking proactive measures to protect your assets. By using these safety tips and investing in protection services, you can check off your shopping list with peace of mind.