You’re armed with the tools you need to save money this holiday shopping season. You know how to budget, where and when to find the best deals, and what to get everyone on your list. But wait. Before you log on and make your next purchase, there are a few strategies to add to your toolbox. Read on for a guide to keep your information and your money safe this holiday shopping season.
Look for the lock. When you visit a retailer’s website, first check the address bar for a padlock symbol, which will let you know it is a secure website. You can also look at the beginning of the web address for an “s” in “https.”
Enable two-factor verification. Whenever possible, enable two-factor verification for your accounts. This capability first became available with banking and financial services, but now more websites are offering this to verify your identity. You can add your mobile phone number to receive a text with a code, which you enter before you are granted access to the site and your account.
Install updates. Keep your software updated and install updates as they become available, including antivirus software. Also, update your browser when prompted. Vulnerabilities are constantly getting repaired, and new versions and fixes are released in each update.
Watch what you click. Never click on a link in an email if you are not familiar with the sender. One common source to be aware of is package delivery emails, especially during the holiday season when you are expecting more shipments than usual. Fake delivery notices are phishing emails to get you to open an attachment or click a link.
Lock it up. Use a security code or fingerprint to access your phone, and keep it “locked” at all times. If you misplace or lose your phone, or worse – get it stolen – this will keep your information, passwords and identity safe.
Verify the source. Before you download a new app, verify that it comes from a trusted source. Instead of searching in the app store, look up the source’s website for a link to its verified app. Fake apps that look just like the real thing can be easily mistaken and might contain malware that can steal your personal information after you download.
Secure when you shop. Shop online only with a secure or password-protected network connection, and avoid public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi networks are easily compromised, making your shopping and payment activity accessible to hackers. Don’t forget to disable automatic Wi-Fi connectivity on your phone or device, so you don’t unknowingly connect to an unsecured network.
Review. Throughout the holiday season – and all year long, for that matter – keep a close eye on your credit card statement for any charges that you don’t recognize. Report any suspicious activity to your bank or credit card company as soon as possible, and the financial institution will walk you through all necessary steps to solve the issue.
Keep it safe. As you check out on a retailer’s website, you might see an option to save your credit card number for faster payment next time. Don’t let websites save your credit card or banking information. It’s a little more work to type it in each time, but if the website is breached by hackers, then your online security is less likely to be compromised.