**Originally published December 1, 2016. Updated November 6, 2019.**
Okay, so you can’t get mugged shopping online, but you can still get ripped off and even lured into giving a hacker access to your computer and, ultimately, your bank account.
Scammers love the holiday season because they know many people are taking advantage of the convenience of online shopping. Online purchase fraud increased by 13% during the 2018 holiday shopping season, according to ACI Worldwide.
Identity theft is a real concern, especially if you’re not careful.
Here’s how you can increase your personal security this Cyber Monday and holiday shopping season:
- Back your data up regularly. If your devices are hacked, you’ll have all your data, especially if the hacker is holding your files hostage with ransomware and demanding a payment for the “key” to retrieve your files.
- Create a different password for every retailer you have an online account with.
- Avoid buying from merchants whose websites are not secure. A hacker may also set up a website designed to look like a legitimate seller of some novelty item like decorative gift baskets or handkerchiefs. Before purchasing from them, Google their legitimacy and check the Better Business Bureau for any scam reports. Duplicate favorable reviews on different sites are a red flag.
- Always pay with a credit card as opposed to a debit card. Your credit card offers greater protection if you need to dispute fraudulent charges.
- Only purchase from resellers with very positive feedback. Resellers with negative reviews or no reviews are a red flag they are a scammer.
- Be highly suspicious of some long-lost relative or friend asking you for money to get through the holidays; it’s most likely a scammer pretending to be someone you know.
- Avoid financial transactions and online shopping when using public Wi-Fi. Identity theft is a very real risk when you’re transmitting personal information over unsecured networks.
- Avoid using a check or money-order for making purchases. Again, like a debit card, your money will disappear if you made the transaction with a crook.
- Buy common items at big-name retailers who have secure sites (a padlock symbol followed by “https” for the URL).
- Ensure your computer and smartphone are fully protected with mobile security software, and keep apps updated.
Don’t Leave Your Identity Unprotected
The key tasks to help protect yourself and your family from identity theft when shopping online comprise of increasing awareness of the cyber scams this holiday season, keeping your devices properly protected with a strong password and update software, and making sure all credit card activity has been authorized by you.
Even still, nobody can completely defend against identity theft, which is why you need a protection plan in place. Trust the best identity theft protection services on the market from IdentityForce and get started with your own Free Trial today.
Check out our Holiday Shopping Tip Sheet that you can print and share with your friends and colleagues. The more people following safe online shopping practices the better!