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Holiday Online Security Tips

posted on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 in Security & Fraud Information

Holiday Online Security Tips

With the start of the holiday season commencing, the last thing most folks want to spend their time doing is recovering from the consequences of debit or credit cards stolen from online purchases. We’re sharing these valuable tips from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in order to help our customers have a financially safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Give Yourself the Best Gift of All This Holiday: Online Security

The biggest shopping time of the year comes with great deals and benefits to shoppers, but it also comes with risks. While 80 percent of annual online sales occur between Black Friday and the weekend before Christmas, these 4 weeks are also the biggest weeks for scammers and spammers. With the holiday season quickly approaching, it is important to remember that the best gift you can give yourself and your family is the gift of online security.

The following tips can help you protect your personal information when shopping online:

  • Use and maintain anti-virus software and a firewall.  Protect yourself against viruses and Trojan horses that may steal or modify the data on your computer and leave you vulnerable.
  • Evaluate your software's settings.  The default settings for most software enable all available functionality, possibly leaving room for an attacker to access your computer. Check the settings for all software, and especially those programs that connect to the Internet (browsers, email clients, mobile applications, etc.). Apply the highest level of security available that still gives you the functionality you need.
  • Shop on reliable websites.  Take a look at the website’s trademark or logo to make sure it is valid. Also, pay attention to the website’s URL. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).
  • Protect your personal information.  Take the time to check a website's privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there is no policy cited, this could be a red flag that your personal information may be sold without your permission.
  • Beware of deals that sound too good to be true.  Use caution when opening email attachments and do not follow web links included in unsolicited email messages. Watch out for extremely low prices on hard-to-get holiday items. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Look for the lock.  When shopping online, check the lower-right corner of your screen for the padlock symbol and make sure the website address begins with “https://” before entering you’re your shipping, billing, or payment information.
  • Keep a record of your order.  Retain all documentation of the order in the event an order does not ship or there are unauthorized charges on your credit or debit card statement. Also, be sure to review your credit card statement each month for irregularities.
  • Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots. Limit the type of business you conduct when using public Wi-Fi networks. Avoid shopping online when using public Wi-Fi as your information can easily be accessed by hackers on a public network.

If you think you have become a victim of identity theft, file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. You can also report online fraud to the Federal Trade Commission and file a report with the Department of Justice.

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