Holiday internet shopping can be a hectic and stressful. People vying for the same good deals and dangerous crowds rushing into a store are enough to keep even the bravest shoppers away. This behavior has led to a large amount of people turning to online shopping to save them both stress and time. The convenience that shopping online offers makes it a no-brainer. According to Fortune, people spent a record 4.42 billion dollars in online shopping on Black Friday and Thanksgiving. With so much personal financial information out there, instances of identity theft are on the rise.
Anyone who shops online is vulnerable to having their identity compromised. The proper precautions combined with identity theft protection are your strongest safeguards in protecting your credit and preventing the financial ruin that can be caused when an identity is stolen.
To help protect your identity when you’re shopping online this holiday season, take into consideration these 5 helpful holiday shopping safety tips:
1. Trust the Familiar
The primary reason for online shopping during this busy time is to find deals you would never find otherwise. Proceed with caution here as some deals are too good to be true. Stick with sites like Amazon.com, Target.com or other familiar retailers. Beware of misspellings (Amazan.com) since this is one of the most common ways scammers trick consumers. There are many fake sites and untrustworthy dealings on obscure URLs that exist only to scam customers out of money. Make sure to look for https:// before the domain name—the s stands for secure. Also look for a lock or similar icon to indicate you are on a safe site.
2. Set Up Banking Alerts
Online shopping safety tips can be worrisome to remember. However, these tips can save you in the long run. The more information you enter online, the more likely you are to be a victim of identity theft. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that $15 billion was stolen from 13.1 million U.S. consumers in 2015. That is a sad truth of our digital age. Combat this by having alerts set up with your banking institution. Most banks will contact you or turn off your card if they detect any suspicious behavior. Some people may be put off by having to discuss purchases with their bank in the event of a mistake, but more often than not, you are alerted before things get out of hand.
3. Secure Your Network
A simple but effective online shopping safety tip is to make sure your wireless network is not open and available to anyone but your household. If you don’t already have a password set up, make sure to create one as soon as possible. Avoid simple passwords to make sure that no one cracks your code. This helps prevent identity theft.
4. Keep a Close Eye on Your Activity
There are some holiday online shopping safety tips which seem obvious, however there are some tips which are not. We already advised you to set up banking alerts, but the truth is they may not catch everything. Whenever you make an online purchase make sure to cross check it with your bank statements. Staying on top of each purchase will give insight into anything that doesn’t look right. From completely fraudulent charges to an incorrect dollar amount. Don’t pay credit card bills until you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems. After that, you might be liable for the charges.
5. Local Lockdown
In order to further stave off any threat of identity theft or fraud, it’s important to consider how vulnerable your devices are. Whether you do your shopping on your phone or laptop, you should have a complex password for each device. This ensures that if your device is stolen or accessed without your permission that thieves won’t be able to get past the lock screen.