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‘Tis the Season: How To Stay Safe When Shopping Online

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With Black Friday only two weeks away, the holiday shopping season is rapidly approaching.

The National Retail Federation estimates 46% of holiday browsing and buying will take place online this season.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to be proactive and protect your information. Here is what to do (and not do) when shopping online.

Only shop on secure websites.

  • Look at the address bar of your browser. You should see https:// – not http:// – and a closed padlock symbol. These indicate that you have a secure session within the website
  • When shopping on new sites, always check online reviews. Look for any red flags that may indicate it’s not a safe or legitimate site.
  • Always log off a website after completing an online transaction, whether you’re using your personal computer, mobile device or a public computer.

Secure your wireless network.

  • Make it password-protected to make sure others cannot access your personal info without your knowledge and permission.

Don’t share personal or financial information over an unsecured network.

  • Using the direct web access on your phone (via a 3G/4G connection) is safer than an unsecured wireless network.

Don’t tell all.

  • When possible, give up the least amount of information possible.
  • Check the website’s privacy policy to learn how your information will be used, stored or shared.

Use safe payment options.

    • Use one credit card, preferably the one with the lowest interest rate, to do your shopping. This will make it easier to track your purchases.
    • If you bring only this card with you while shopping, there’s one more benefit: if you misplace your wallet, you won’t lose all your cards.

    Create strong passwords.

    Everyone knows that creating strong passwords is key to online security, but most of us don’t do it. Here are tips you need to be following when creating your passwords:

    • Combine different numbers, letters, and symbols.
    • The longer the password, the better.
    • Don’t use phrases, names, etc. that can be easily guessed.
    • Remember that most password hint questions are based on information you might have shared on social media – hometown, pet’s names, maiden names, education history, etc.
    • Be mindful of this when selecting your security questions, and limit what information you share online

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