Try this out: do a web search for “safety tips for online shopping.” Guess when a number of the top results were written? Over 5 years ago. That’s basically an eternity in technology years. Those are some outdated tips! So instead of looking at those as you surf the web for all your holiday shopping this year, use ours. Because your privacy and financial security matter!
Avoid storing your credit card information with the online store. For convenience, many, if not all, online sites allow you the ability to store your credit card information online with them. Sure, it makes future purchases faster for you, but now you’re depending on a third party to keep your personal information protected. Unfortunately, data breaches are part of the constant news cycle as they happen often. Who can you really trust? Yourself. Enter your credit card information yourself each time you shop.
Never shop on public Wi-Fi or a public computer. Don’t shop at a coffee shop or using the public library’s computer because your browsing and transactions are not safe! If the public Wi-Fi at McDonald’s or Starbucks is your only connection, then make sure and use VPN. Our mobile app is super easy to use, as are our PC and Mac apps. Protecting your browsing through a VPN encrypts all of the traffic going and coming from your device.
Protect yourself from credit card fraud. Request mobile notifications from your bank or credit union for purchases made online or over a certain dollar amount. That way, if any unauthorized purchase is made, you’ll receive a text on your phone and can take action on it right away.
Use credit cards or disposable credit cards instead of debit. If your debit card information is stolen, you aren’t as protected as you are using a credit card. If someone gained access to it, they could clean out your checking account before you’re aware of the lost funds, and you may only be able to recover a portion of that upon reporting it to the financial institution. However, credit cards have you covered when it comes to losses and fraud. Straight from the FTC’s website, “once you report [a] loss or theft, the law says you have no additional responsibility for charges you didn’t make.” For an even safer route, make all of your online purchases with disposable credit cards. They work just like gift cards, and you can purchase them at many grocery stores, retailers or convenience stores. You can buy a Visa or American Express card in varying dollar amounts, reload it as you use it, or use it until it’s gone. If the number were stolen, the criminal only has access to whatever is left on it.
Only shop on secure websites and use sites you know have a good reputation. Check for the lock icon on your browser as well as the “https” to verify the site is secure. If you find an online deal that seems too good to be true on a site you’ve never heard of before, be very careful. Do a web search about the company’s reputation and read user reviews. Or to be even safer, avoid them altogether if you can’t tell for sure if it’s a trusted vendor.
Have fun with your holiday shopping and stay safe, too!