5 Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping

Is it me or has 2015 has flown by?  Crazy right?

I can’t believe the year is almost over.  And this is probably the busiest shopping month of the year.

With more shopping, means more use of credit and debit cards.  That also means more opportunities for data and identity theft.  [I’d add some scary/dramatic music here if I could!]

To ensure you are safe and secure online this holiday season, I recommend you follow these 5 easy tips to avoid any added stress to this busy time of year.

1.  Shop at trusted retailers

If you’re like me, you shop at the same places again and again.  I know these retailers and have never had problems with my identity or data when shopping with them.  Well, online any way 😉

Shop online with retailers you know and trust.  When you go to their website, make sure you land on their domain name.  For example, if you’re shopping at a place called “buy awesome stuff”, make sure your shopping at “buyawesomestuff.com” or a trusted partner of theirs.

If you’re on a website called “stealyourstuff.com”…it’s probably not a good idea to enter your credit card data!

Also, make sure you have a secure connection to the website.

The website address should look like this:  https pic

The https means you have a secure connection to the website.  Well, more secure any way!  🙂

You can click on the lock to verify the security certificate is valid and has been verified for an added bonus.

If the cert is valid, you can trust the website is who they say they are.

2.  Check Your Email

Email scams are pretty popular during the holidays.  My advice…if you don’t recognize who sent you an email, then don’t open it.

Most email applications will let you display an email address of who ACTUALLY sent it to you.  Take advantage of that if you can.  Usually, you can hover over the name of the sender, and the email address will by displayed.

It’s not uncommon to see one of your friend’s name as the email sender, only to find the email address is clickhereandsuffer@youreintrouble.com.  Not a good idea to open that one!  Go ahead and delete it.

Also, keep an eye out for receipts and invoices when shopping.

If you didn’t buy something, but get an email saying you did, report it to the company.  You will want to check your credit report if you can’t resolve the issue as well.

3.  Shopping On the Go

Be VERY careful when using anyone else’s network while shopping.  This includes stores, coffee shops, and hotels.  Even with a secure connection (https), the network itself is most likely unsecure.  Even if a password is required to use it.

That means anything your send using the network can be captured and stolen.

If you’re going to shop using a mobile device to purchase anything, make sure you trust the network as if you were giving them your personal information yourself.

You basically are at that point!

4.  Be Aware (Physical security)

You should always be aware of people around you.  Especially when you’re checking out at a retail store.  Know who is around you when you’re using your credit card or sharing personal information.

Thieves will listen in on your conversation to gather information.  They can listen for your name or your phone number (for those awesome reward cards). They can even watch you enter your PIN number as you complete a sale.

If someone is too close, be polite and ask them for some “personal” space.  I do it quite often.  Most people don’t realize they’re too close to you.

Or, choose a different method of payment such as cash, or a credit card with signature.

5.  Purchase protection

If you feel so inclined, you can also purchase a credit monitoring service.  They’ll monitor any sales or use of your information that appear out of character.

They’ll alert you right away via email, phone, or text and freeze the “shady” activity.

Remember, you are in control when it comes to your security and the information you share.  Using these 5 easy tips will improve the protection of your information.

It will also greatly reduce the chances of buying a ton of electronics in a foreign country you’ve never visited!

If you found this information helpful, please leave me a comment below and let me know.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks and be safe!

– Brandon

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