'Tis the Season

  • Published: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021

The holiday season is upon us. The circumstances we are living in, COVID restrictions plus the high demand/low availability of products, will direct many to do their shopping online. There are some precautions you should take before letting loose of your hard earned cash.

  • Use secure connections. Use a VPN when possible and avoid public wi-.fi.
  • Shop only on secure websites. Look for https, a lock symbol or green color in the address bar. 
  • Use a credit card with a low credit limit, and only use it for online purchases.
  • Use strong and unique passwords for each shopping site. Don't store this information in your browser.
  • Keep your anti-virus software up to date. Update your browsers too.
  • Check reviews and reputations.
  • Watch out for too good to be true deals. Scammers are good at making you feel like you might miss out if you let an offer pass you by. Compare prices on similar websites.
  • Use a credit card rather than a debit card for online purchases. Debit cards have a direct link into your bank account. You might be able to recoup fraudulent charges made against it, but, until that happens, you could be broke. Federal law limits your liability from unauthorized purchases on your credit card. 
  • Never store your credit card information online.
  • Read the fine print. Understand additional costs like shipping and handling, taxes, restocking fees or hidden costs. Look at descriptions of the product. Are the dimensions accurately depicted in the picture? Know about return policies.
  • Avoid falling for click bait. You know, the pop up ads that appear on your social media page? These are just paid advertisers and are not necessarily vetted by the site.
  • When shopping from your phone or other mobile device, use retailer apps secured from reputable stores (Google Play, Amazon, Apple, etc.).
  • Consider checking out as a guest rather that creating an account. For a one-time purchase from a vendor, this makes sense and is one less account to keep track of.
  • Don't forget about charitable donations. Make sure you know the organization you are donating to and how the funds are used and processed.

Finally, in the era of the porch pirate, it's important to consider secure locations for delivery. You may want to consider a stay-at-home neighbor or your office for deliveries. With all of these packages out for delivery, be wary of fake delivery scams. These phishing emails aim to steal your personal information and money. After all of your shopping is finished, take the last step of monitoring and tracking all of this activity on your credit card and bank accounts.

Shopping online is easy and convenient. You can ensure the safety of your personal information and finances by being vigilant about your security online.

Resources:
Store Reviews-ResellerRatings.com
Charity Ratings - CharityWatch.org