How To Safely Shop This Holiday Season

November 25, 2019

A survey from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) found that more than a third of holiday gift givers (36%) plan to purchase internet-connected gadgets and gear for family and friends. But wait: before you give the gift of connectivity, don’t let hackers get in your way.

Keep these tips in mind to help protect yourself from identity theft and other malicious activity while shopping online during the holiday season and throughout the year:

  • Avoid shopping on sites with poor security practices. Consider using a web browser like Google Chrome that can identify potentially compromised websites.
  • Watch out for fake package tracking emails and fake e-cards. These often come with malicious links or attachments designed to infect your device or steal your account information.
  • Know your online merchants.  Limit your online shopping to merchants you know and trust. Only go to sites by directly typing a known, trusted URL into the address bar instead of clicking on a link. If you are unsure about a merchant, check with the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.
  • If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. An investigation by the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency, found that many products sold by third-party sellers on popular websites such as and were counterfeit—and dangerous—and were often a total waste of money.
  • Pay by credit card, not debit card. Credit cards offer protections that may reduce your liability if your information is used improperly. Debit cards typically do not have the same level of protection. Also check your statements regularly.
  • Look for "https" before logging in or entering any information online. Make sure web page addresses (URLs) begin with https, not http. The "s" stands for “secure" and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted. 
  • Don't use public wireless for your online shopping.  Criminals may intercept traffic on public wireless networks to steal credit card numbers and other sensitive information. Set your devices to "ask" before joining new wireless networks so you don’t unknowingly connect to an insecure hot spot.
  • Be alert for charity donation scams.  Cyber criminals try to take advantage of people’s generosity during the holiday season and can use fake charity requests as a means to gain access to your information or computer/device. Don’t click on links in emails requesting donations. Contribute by navigating to the trusted address of the charity.

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