Stay Safe Online This Shopping Season

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, One Way Stock
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, One Way Stock

It is hard to believe that the holiday shopping season is already upon us. This year, the holiday shopping done online is expected to jump from 14% last year to 17%. Not surprisingly, 51% of consumers surveyed in a Nielson study said they are planning on taking advantage of the Black Friday deals online, rather than maneuver the crowds in stores. And, 46% said that they would participate in Cyber Monday. What's more, new apps, such as from BuyVia, encourage shoppers to make purchases directly from their mobile device, where security is an afterthought. With the rise of online identify theft, privacy breaches and cybersecurity attacks, it is even more important than ever to take precautions to protect your personal data when shopping online. Here are a few tips to stay safe this holiday shopping season:

  • Avoid making purchases on public WiFi. While this may seem obvious, it is much easier for personal information to be poached from public WiFi networks, even that password protected one in your favorite coffee shop.
  • Install and update anti-virus software. Again, seems obvious. But I for one know that updating my anti-virus software rarely crosses my mind. Make sure you have the most recent version before purchasing that iPhone 5S for your Mom.
  • When you can, use credit, not debit. Should your info be accessed, there are more security measures on credit cards than debit cards. For example, credit cards will often call you before authorizing an unusually large purchase, or one that is made in a new location.
  • Stay on top of your account statements. Many times, hackers will get away with charging very low amounts to your card if they think you do not notice. Review your statements after every online purchase.
  • Use strong passwords and change them frequently. For sites that require a login and password, make sure you are using strong ones that will not be easily stolen. And, switch up your passwords so that they are different for every site.

Do you have any online shopping tips you would like to share? Tell us in the comments below. And, happy shopping!

Gaby is an account executive at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @Gabyberk