The holidays are one of the most popular times for online shopping. Online shopping can be a great way to find deals, save time, and find unique gifts for loved ones. However, it can also be dangerous. Viruses and data thieves, who might use your information to steal your credit card numbers or make purchases in your name, are also out in droves during the holiday season. To make sure that stolen data doesn’t mar your holiday celebrations, you need to be aware of certains sites while shopping online and take a few simple steps to protect yourself. If you pay attention to the following tips, you should be able to stay safe and secure while doing your online shopping this holiday season.
Update Your Security/Antivirus Software
Before you start shopping, make sure that all your virus and malware protection is up-to-date. This software will help to keep your computer protected. If you don’t already have antivirus software installed, or if you’re looking for something better, you can check out this article from PC Magazine with reviews of the 10 best free antivirus programs for 2015.
Installing an adblock extension to your web browser can also help to protect you and keep your online experience more enjoyable. Adblock works by stopping ads from showing at all. This includes banners, video ads, and pop-ups. Fewer pop-ups means fewer places where you could click a link or enter information somewhere you don’t want. AdBlock is the most popular browser extension, and it’s free.
Make Your Passwords Safer
If you haven’t updated your passwords in a while, now is a great time. “Password” and “123456” are the two most commonly used passwords and will be guessed by hackers very easily, so make sure you never use these. It’s also risky to use the same password on all your different accounts.
Shop on Secure Websites
Shopping on secure websites can help to keep you safe while online shopping. You can check whether a website is secure to the left of the web address. Secure websites will have a padlock icon next to them and start with https://. These websites are safer to enter your information and payment details into.
Check that Unknown Sites Are Legitimate
It’s great to do holiday shopping at small and independent businesses. When you’re shopping online, however, you need to check that online businesses you aren’t familiar with are legitimate. Try a quick Google search of the business to check for reviews from other customers.
Use the Same Credit Card
A credit card is usually the most secure payment method for online shopping, as they generally have limits, and you can seek credit from the card issuer if your purchases aren’t delivered. It’s smart to put all of your online purchases on the same card. That way, if something goes wrong, you only have to worry about cancelling one card, rather than tracking down multiple payment methods.
Check Your Statements
When you receive your credit card statements, make sure to read them promptly and check for any unauthorized charges. If anything seems wrong, call your bank or credit card provider as soon as you can to work things out.
The best thing you can to do be secure online is to stay smart and think critically. Don’t enter any personal or financial information when you don’t need to. Delete suspicious-looking emails. If you’re not sure if something is legitimate, search for more information to see if you’re dealing with a well-known scam. If in doubt, don’t give out your information or make a purchase on a suspicious-looking site. Being careful and critical is the best way to keep your money and information safe and enjoy the holidays.