“There’s no place like home for the holidays,” especially if you want to get most of your shopping done online sitting in your favorite chair, sipping eggnog, and basking in the warm glow of your computer screen. If shopping without braving crowds and weather sounds attractive, you’re not alone – many consumers plan to do some or most of their holiday shopping online.
As you can imagine, when online shopping increases, online fraud increases, too. The “bad actors” take advantage of consumers’ expansive goodwill and desire for convenience to harvest their financial information and personal details for their own use. According to Security Magazine,1 the average online shopping fraud in 2017 was $227, and the percentage of fraudulent transactions has been on the rise every year. So, while you’re shopping online, here are some important things to pay attention to:
- Shop at trusted websites
It’s tempting to just search for that hot toy that’s hard to find and then click through to the first website you see. Instead, look for retailers you have shopped with before. As with brick-and-mortar retailers, you can check out online shopping sites at the Better Business Bureau’s website (https://www.bbb.org/). Finally, be sure you are shopping at the retailer’s official site – watch for clever misspellings that may lead you to a decoy website.
- Make sure the site is secure
If the site begins with “https” – watch for that “s” at the end – that’s a good sign that the online retailer is using adequate encryption technology, where your personal information will be secure. It can be convenient to register for an account with retailers you shop at frequently, but it’s safest not to let the site remember your credit card number.
- Don’t shop online while using public Wi-Fi
You might be taking a break at the local coffee shop or waiting for a couple of hours at the airport, and taking advantage of free Wi-Fi, and decide you can knock a couple of gifts off your list. This is not a good time to shop online – free Wi-Fi is unsecured and can allow a nearby bad actor easy access to your accounts and even your passwords and credit card information. Wait until you are connected to secure password-protected Wi-Fi to do any online shopping.
- Pay with a credit card, not debit card
Most major credit cards limit your liability in case of fraud, so for your online holiday shopping it’s safer to use credit cards to take advantage of that protection. (Do set a reminder to pay your balance in January!) And make sure to check your statements at least once a week and set up any account alerts available on your accounts.
- Pass on deals that are “too good to be true”
You can get some great deals if you watch carefully, but if something looks too good to be true, it usually is. There are still great deals to be had, but use the tips above to be sure you are shopping at a legitimate online retailer, not a site designed to lure you in and capture your personal information.
Professional identity theft protection can help detect additional forms of identity fraud with existing accounts, or criminal, medical, or Social Security misuse. ID360 is available to you and your family at a substantial discount because of my affiliation with Cetera Financial Group. Visit https://www.id360.com/cetera to learn more.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you’d like more information about keeping your personal information secure. Thank you for allowing me to work with you to help you pursue your financial goals, and I wish you continued success.
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Reno, NV 89523