’Tis the season to be shopping, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la. Online sales are expected to increase up to 18% during the holiday season compared to 2018, for a grand total of up to $149 billion. That’s a lot of online shoppers. And since 76% of all adults in the U.S. have purchased an item online, chances are pretty good you might be crossing off some people on your “nice” list come Cyber Monday. Who can blame you?
If given the choice to shop for grandma’s scented candle from the comfort of your sofa or brave the holiday crowds at the mall, many people will choose shopping online. (Even if it means missing out on a warm, salty pretzel.) Just beware; 87% of consumers have left personal information vulnerable while accessing emails, bank accounts or financial information.
So, before all of those holiday packages start showing up on your doorstep, take a look at these tips on how to safely shop online.
1. Use your credit card, not your debit card.
Using a credit card instead of a debit card is usually the best idea, whether you’re shopping online or in-store. That’s because federal regulations say if someone besides you uses your credit card to do some shopping of their own, you don’t have to pay while the credit card company investigates. Plus, most credit cards give you $0 liability for such purchases.
2. Keep an eye on your statements.
This is an important habit to get into at all times of the year, but especially during the holidays. We recommend looking at least once a week. Credit card companies and banks make it easy for you to log in and stay informed.
3. Maintain strong passwords.
There are two things you don’t want someone trying to guess: your age and your password. Anyone who figures out your password can log in, access your credit card information, go shopping and change your address to theirs so gifts come to them. So, how do you keep your account safe by creating a strong password? Well, your password should:
- Be at least eight characters long and use a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols
- Not use words found in the dictionary or easily guessed information like your address, birthday, child’s birthday, etc.
- Never be used on more than one account
4. Stay away from public WiFi.
As tempting as it is to shop online while you’re eating lunch at a local restaurant, don’t. Public places use public networks, and it’s easier than you’d think for someone to intercept your data while you’re using free, public WiFI. That data includes valuable information, such as your name and credit card information – “presents” you don’t want any identity thief to receive.
5. Shop on websites you’ve used before.
Not always, but usually the larger, more popular websites are safe places to shop online. You might find the perfect gift at a random website you wouldn’t normally go to, but think twice before purchasing from a retailer you don’t recognize or normally do business with. Also, be sure to check the URL. Look for https:// in the web address. That “s” means the site is secure, so you can rest assured that your privacy is protected.
6. Watch out for phishing scams and package delivery emails.
Be on the lookout for emails promising deals that seem too good to be true, contain a link asking for personal information or are disguised as a notice for package delivery. Legitimate shopping websites will never email you randomly and ask for personal information.
Now that you know how to shop safely online, be sure to put these tips to good use this holiday season and always. Remember, if you’re a Croghan Colonial Bank customer, you can access your account on our mobile app 24/7 and freeze/unfreeze your cards. Click here to find out more about our secure checking options. Of course, if you need more help or would like to talk to someone in person, give us a call at 888-276-4426.