Safer Online Shopping: Tips for Protecting Yourself This Holiday Season

With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, many shoppers are planning to shop online. Online shopping can net you some great deals, but it can also lead to identity theft. With a little caution, you can protect yourself and still get great deals!

How to Protect Yourself

Ideally, the least amount of personal information you share is best, which is why using prepaid cards works well. You can purchase these cards in most stores, either with cash or credit. They aren’t connected to any of your personal accounts, so they limit the amount of information a hacker can access about you.

If you do use your credit or debit cards online, don’t wait for your bank and credit card statements to come in the mail. Log on often to check for any charges you haven’t authorized, and if you see questionable activity, even for a small amount, call the bank or credit card company right away. Thieves sometimes do a test run with a small purchase to see if they can get away with it before really racking up the bill. The faster you catch them, the less damage you will have to work to undo.

One of the easiest ways to protect your information is to use better passwords. Your password should be difficult to guess, and shouldn’t use personal information like names and birthdays. Also, use a unique password at each site you use so that if one is compromised, only that site is affected.

Use only sites you trust when shopping online. Nearly every big name store has a website now, making it easier than ever to shop online without going to questionable vendors. Just be sure to verify the site address is correct, because hackers can make some pretty clever copies and fool shoppers by using a slight variation in the URL.

Avoid deals that promise too much for too little. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Deals that offer you expensive things for almost nothing are usually a phishing attempt to get your information. No, you most likely can’t get an iPad free, and these are usually scams to try to part you from your money and personal info.

Finally, use a quality anti-virus and malware program. Not keeping your computer protected exposes anything you do on it to possible thieves, meaning they can track your every digital movement. There are several quality programs that can protect your computer, even some that are free, and they can save you a big headache. Not only will preventing malware from infecting your computer help you protect your information, but it can also keep your computer running.