The holidays are the season of giving. This means that you’ll most likely be doing a lot of shopping for your loved ones. Seeing the smile on their faces when they open up your gift is an amazing feeling. However, it’s important that you realize that the holiday season is also when identity thieves are most active. Learning how to protect yourself when holiday shopping can avoid turning a season of joy into a season of disaster.
Quick Tips For Safe Holiday Shopping
- Use credit, not debit. Most debit cards only offer up to $500 of protection when it comes to fraudulent transactions. Your credit card will offer much greater protection in the event your information is stolen. We suggest keeping your debit card at home and opting to use a credit card instead. If you must use debit, accessing it via near-field communication technology (NFC) such as Apple Pay is a much safer route. Not all stores offer this technology, so do your research.
- Skimmers can be used to steal your credit card information. Skimmers attach to ATM machines or card readers and allow a criminal to “skim” your card number and expiration. They can then use this info to make fraudulent charges which you may be responsible. This is a big reason why the added protections of a credit card is recommended over a debit card.
- Never shop over a public WiFi network. When you access the internet via public WiFi, any info you send from your mobile device or computer to the modem will be briefly available to anyone logged into this network. Even in this short time, intelligent thieves can collect that information. Never send personal information of any kind when using a public network. Use your protected home WiFi, if possible, as another tip on how to protect yourself when holiday shopping.
- Only shop on secure websites and watch out for fraudulent emails. If a website URL starts with https:// it is a secure website. You may also see a lock symbol next to the URL in your browser. A secure website has protections and certificates enabled which will protect your information when you send it through their site. Your information is encrypted until it reaches their database so that outside parties cannot access it. In the same vein, you must be cautious about all emails you receive. Criminals are known to send out very convincing emails which may seem like they are from a legitimate website. They may offer unbeatable deals which will be hard to pass up. However, you must avoid clicking any URLs or downloading any attachment from sources you are unsure of.
We wish you yours a wonderful holiday season. We hope that you better understand how to protect yourself when holiday shopping and that those smiles are bigger this year than ever before.