At the Most Wonderful Time of Year—Stay Safe While Shopping Online

Author: Cassie McCan

Holiday Shopping Online Image

Do you prefer doing your holiday shopping online at home rather than battling crowds at retail stores? If so, you’re in good company. Global online sales are expected to hit $5.5-trillion by the end of 2022.

Though you may enjoy the comfort and convenience of holiday shopping online, it is a primary target for cybercriminals—especially at this time of year. While making online purchases from your computer or other mobile devices, here are some tips to keep those transactions secure.

Shopping on Websites

  • Verify the website’s URL—Make sure you are on the retailer’s actual website. Cybercriminals can set up fake websites that look similar to the retailer’s website to steal money or personal information.
  • Navigate directly to a website—Find good deals by going to your favorite retailers’ websites rather than clicking on links contained in potentially malicious email.
  • Keep personal information personal—Be suspicious of any online retailer that requires unconventional information to complete your purchase such as your social security number or wire transfer details. 
  • Check website reviews before using new online retailers—Be wary of online retailers with negative reviews or no reviews, as well as discounted items too good to be true.

Shop Privately & Securely

  • Free public WiFi—This should not be used for any financial transactions as cybercriminals can easily monitor your activity. Use mobile data plans in public areas or shop at home from your personally owned devices.
  • Identify website security features—Seeing a padlock icon at the top of your browser means that any transactions on that website will be private. These websites also start with “HTTPS” where the “S” stands for secure.
  • More secure payment options—Third-party digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay store your credit card information, then encode so a retailer doesn’t receive your full credit card number. Paypal also serves as an intermediary to help keep your payment details private.

Finally, it’s important to closely monitor your bank and other financial statements due to increased purchasing activity during the holiday season. Be sure to verify all purchases listed on these statements are legitimate, and report any unrecognized transactions.

Shopping online at this time of year can be fun and exciting. Be sure to follow these online security tips to help keep your money and personal information safe. More valuable online shopping tips are available in this Online Shopping article on the National Cybersecurity Alliance website.