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Nov 28

Holiday Shopping Season Is Here ... Take Steps to Keep Your Information Safe While Shopping Online

Posted on November 28, 2018 at 5:15 PM by Deputy Aaron Scheller

Holiday shopping season is here, and we’ll be deciding if we visit a store or hop online to buy gifts and essentials for our family gatherings.

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If you think you’ll be choosing the virtual cart over the store cart to make your holiday purchases, it’s important you take preventive measures to protect yourself from identity theft.

There are four simple yet very important steps you can take to prevent your personal and financial information from getting into the wrong hands.

First, choose a credit card or prepaid gift card over a debit card. Credit cards offer protection from identity theft that debit cards don’t. When you use your debit card, you allow someone to instantly gain access to your personal banking account; a credit card on the other hand is not linked to your checking account. Also, when it comes to disputing a charge, the process is a lot easier with a credit card and requires less effort on the consumer’s part. An even better option is to use a prepaid gift card.

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Second, verify the website security. Before you settle on a website to make purchases, check to make sure it has security features in place. Without a strong security platform in place, your personal details and credit card information are more vulnerable to hackers, spanners, and identity thieves. One quick way to check a website’s security is to make sure its URL starts with “https” rather than “http,” and that there is a closed padlock icon located in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

Third, avoid making online purchases on public Wi-Fi. Shopping at home using your secure Internet is best. If you shop using a public Wi-Fi, you’ll have no control over who might be using the network, which increases the odds your personal information can be stolen by a savvy criminal. You also don’t have any control over what kind of spyware or malware might be stored in a public computer.

Fourth, do not leave your information stored online. It may be easier and quicker to get through the checkout process; however, data breaches are very common. Even large, well-established businesses such as Target, Home Depot, Ebay, and Equifax have all found themselves victims of hackers with their customer’s personal and payment card information exposed to cyber-criminals.

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I hope these tips will help you have a safe holiday shopping season. As always, thanks for subscribing to Safety Speak. Leaflets with safety tips, including one about holiday shopping, can be found on the City website. I encourage you to check them out and share them with family members and friends.

Also, if you have any public safety-related questions or concerns or if you have suggestions for topics to cover future blog posts, let me know using the Ask a Deputy feature.