The holiday season is officially here! It’s a busy time of year when everyone can feel stretched too thin with parties, errands, family commitments and, of course—shopping! More and more consumers are avoiding the mall and doing all or part of their holiday purchasing online. And why not? It’s convenient, allows you to avoid the crowds and shop whenever and wherever you’d like.
But it’s important to shop smart (and secure), too. Here are six key tipsto keep in mind when you buy online.
Shop secure sites: Make sure the companies you shop with take security as seriously as you do! According to Carlos Renteria, the Security Manager for Southside Bank, one simple way to do that is to make sure the url begins with “https” rather than “http.” The extra “s” indicates that communication between the website and your browser is encrypted. Secure sites will also have a small lock icon in the lower right corner of the screen.
Avoid public Wi-Fi: It’s very easy for scammers to access your personal information over unsecured public networks, such as those at your local coffee shop or hotel. Never make purchases or sign into personal bank accounts on a public network. And if you ever use a public computer, make sure you completely log out of every website and the computer itself when you are done.
Don’t store your information: It seems like every week a new data breach at a retailer makes the news. That’s why it’s important to never ask a website to remember your personal information. Lora Stockhammer, Southside Bank’s Senior Vice President, Operations recommends using services like MasterPass and mobile wallets instead, which still allow you to check out quickly while keeping your information secure.
Keep your devices up to date: One of the most proactive things you can do to stay safe while shopping online is to make sure you keep your phones, tablets and other devices up to date. Software updates typically remedy potential security issues. It’s important to have updated virus software installed as well.
Be wary of “incredible deals” on social media: The old adage about something being too good to be true definitely applies to online shopping. There’s been an alarming trend of upstart retailers offering high-quality merchandise at extremely low price points. When the merchandise arrives, it doesn’t look anything like what you purchased (if it arrives at all). Two tell-tale signs that a Facebook page might be a scam is if the page has no negative reviews or you can’t find a phone number or address for the company anywhere on their page.
Check your credit card and bank statements daily: Apps that control and monitor your debit card transactions can also offer tremendous protection. For example, MobiMoneyTM offers a feature that will decline any transaction made outside of a five-mile radius of your phone, which protects you from fraudulent purchases.
The bottom line? Shopping online is easy and convenient. Just make sure you also keep it secure by following the tips above!