Learn How to Shop Smart This Holiday Season

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Holiday shopping season is upon us.  With the pending arrival of Black Friday and Cyber Monday later this month, consumers will flock to their favorite retailers to find the best deals on gifts for friends, family and co-workers.  Several shoppers will make their purchases the old-fashioned way, by visiting shopping centers, malls and other physical store locations.  However, more and more consumers are shopping online for the holidays than ever before.  According to American Express, 94% of consumers made at least one holiday purchase online in 2016, with 6 out of every 10 shoppers preferring to do their holiday shopping online.

Since more shoppers are making online purchases, the chance of fraudulent charges and identity theft are significantly greater.  Consumers are asked to be diligent with their shopping habits and take extra precautions when shopping online. There are some safety measures you can take to avoid fraudulent activity – or catch it quickly if it were to occur:

  • Use secure payment methods, like PayPal or credit cards with 3-digit security codes, to make your purchases.  These methods offer buyer protection in cases of fraudulent or disputed charges where you won’t be held liable.  Many online retailers also have security labels like DigiCert or VeriSign to authenticate purchases as well.
  • Frequently monitor your purchase activity via statements and your bank/credit card company’s website.  Doing so keeps you aware of purchases you make, and alerts you if any fraudulent charges appear on your account.  Don’t wait for your monthly statement to arrive – monitor your activity at any time on your bank and credit card’s website.
  • Use strong passwords when creating accounts on online shopping websites, or any website where credit card information is stored.  Strong passwords consist of several characters with a combination of letters (upper and lowercase), numbers and symbols. You should regularly reset and change your passwords as well.  You can also use a password manager such as LastPass or Google Smart Lock to govern your passwords.
  • Avoid online shopping on public wireless networks at coffee shops, hotels, airports, and other and public Wi-Fi hotspots.  As many of these public networks are unprotected, you never know if your personal and credit card information is being accessed by hackers.
Sean Paradis