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Buying Holiday Gifts Online? Follow These 9 Online Shopping Safety Tips
Eric McKinney
/ Categories: Community, Featured Article

Buying Holiday Gifts Online? Follow These 9 Online Shopping Safety Tips

Buying Holiday Gifts Online? Follow These 9 Online Shopping Safety Tips

Every year, more and more people shop for holiday gifts online instead of going to traditional brick-and-mortar stores. The reasoning behind this is simple: nobody wants to deal with the stress of fighting the crowds all day long with no guarantee that they'll find what they're looking for. Shopping online simply makes life easier. Furthermore, in a post-pandemic world, shopping online feels safer, too, since it reduces the risk of exposure to any viruses that may be lurking in crowds. However, shopping online poses its own set of risks: credit card fraud and identity theft. If you're planning to do your holiday shopping online this year, follow these online shopping safety tips to help reduce the risk of credit card fraud and identity theft:

1. Update the software on the device you're using: Online shopping safety is only as good as the tools you use to protect yourself online. Ensure that your online security software, including antivirus and anti-malware programs, is up to date, so you have the best protection possible for online holiday shopping.

2. Don't shop online with public Wi-Fi: Public wireless networks are notoriously insecure. You never know who might be able to hack into your connection and potentially access all of the data on your computer when you're using public Wi-Fi, including banking information. Only shop online if you have a secure connection, for example, if you're at home. Don't make your gift purchase while at a local coffee shop or the public library.

3. Don't use online shopping and banking services that you don't trust: If online retailers or banks haven't established a sterling reputation, they could potentially put your personal information at risk. It's best to stick with online retailers and banks who have been around for many years because these companies tend to take their reputations very seriously.

4. Only shop from websites that are encrypted: Shopping from websites that are encrypted is one of the best ways to protect yourself online. Look for the little lock icon in your web browser's address bar, and if it's closed then the website you're on is secure. When sites use HTTPS encryption, it means that if your personal information (including your credit card information) is somehow intercepted by cybercriminals, they won't be able to access the data because it will be scrambled.

5. Use multifactor identification: Multifactor identification involves using two or more different forms of online authentication. For example, when signing into your online banking account, you may be prompted to enter not only a username and password but also an additional piece of information, such as a personal identification number (PIN) that's unique to you. Such a PIN may only be retrieved via text or call to your unique phone number.

6. Use strong passwords: This goes without saying, but you should always use strong passwords for your online shopping accounts. Creating a strong password means using a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, and making sure that your passwords are different for every account. Passwords should also be changed periodically.

7. Keep track of your purchase history: It's always important to keep track of all of your online purchase activity so that you can quickly spot any unauthorized transactions if they occur. You can do this by regularly checking your online banking and payment statements, as well as your credit report. Learn more about your security when banking with Eaton Community Bank.

8. Don't use your debit card online: Credit cards are generally considered a safer option than debit cards when it comes to online shopping. If cybercriminals steal your credit card number, the most they can do is run up your bill. You can cancel your card and report the fraud to your credit card issuer. Generally, they'll remove the fraudulent purchases from your card so that you won't get stuck with the bill. If someone steals your debit card number, they can empty your entire bank account in minutes.

9. Be wary of potential online scams: Although online shopping can be convenient, it also has risks. Many online shoppers have received emails from cybercriminals posing as online retailers or banks to trick them into giving up valuable personal information, such as bank account details and passwords. If something about the email seems suspicious (such as spelling errors), contact the retailer directly via phone before responding to the email.

Shopping online this holiday season is not only more convenient; it's also safer for health reasons around the bustling holiday season. However, it's not always safer when it comes to credit card fraud and identity theft. Fortunately, if you follow these online shopping safety tips, you'll significantly reduce the risk of experiencing security issues like those addressed in this article.

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