While people shop online year-round, online shopping will really pick up in the next month or so – and include people who don’t normally shop online. So here are some tips to help keep your data safe when shopping online:
1. Don’t use free/public Wii-Fi for shopping –
While it may be easy and convenient, we don’t recommend shopping online over free/public Wi-Fi connections. It is okay to BROWSE but just don’t go through the checkout process where you are typing personal/financial information. It is not real difficult for hackers to eavesdrop and steal your information. They can capture your data through the air with receivers or video your keystrokes from a distance as you type.
2. Don’t click on emailed offers –
Don’t click on email offers, even if the deal is good/legit. Instead, go directly to the retailer’s website to find the deals. Same thing goes for promo codes — don’t click those links to use the code, but instead write it down, go to the retailer’s website and type it in. Many offers and promo ads track people who click.
3. Create a second email address just for online accounts –
It’s a good idea to set up a second email address (free one from Gmail.com, Yahoo.com, Hotmail.com, etc.) for all your online accounts. You can still get the emails from the retailer when you need to but you aren’t opening your main address (the one you’ve had for years) to spammers.
4. Use different passwords with your accounts –
If you need to create an account with an online retailer, do not use the same password that you use anywhere else. It is less convenient, but if a hacker gets your email and password from an easy-to-hack website, they’ll try the same combinations across all major (harder-to-hack) websites.
For mobile: use the store app instead of the store’s website from your phone’s browser – Apps for sites like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, etc. typically have an extra layer of security and encryption to their app than they can offer on their website (due to compatibility with standard browsers), making them safer to use.
5. Never save credit card info to web browers/websites –
Never save your credit card information in retail sites and web browsers. You can use the secure “eWallet” with our Password Manager to store information if you need it readily available. Neither web browsers (cookies) nor retail websites can be trusted to safeguard your information.
6. Credit, not debit; extra account –
When shopping online, use your credit card instead of your debit card. It is often easier to resolve issues with a credit card than a debit card because the money has been removed from your account when you use a debit card. You can also open an account specifically for online use or use pre-paid Gift/Visa/MC cards for limiting your risk further.
7. Open your statements –
Pay extra attention to your bank and credit card statements come January and February. Even small charges you don’t remember making can be a sign of fraud. Some fraudsters “test” an account with a small charge before putting larger charges through. If you see an unknown charge, call your bank immediately and report it.
8. Embrace phone-based payments –
Retail data breaches have led to the compromise of millions of credit cards. Mobile payment technologies, like Android Pay and Apple Pay, cannot be cloned like traditional magnetic strip cards. Consider using these technologies in your holiday shopping to keep your cards safe from thieves.
9. Don’t leave your phone unlocked –
To prevent someone from buying through your phone or even having access to receipt emails, etc. it’s a good idea to set your phone to require a PIN or fingerprint to access it.