Four Tips to Safely Shop Online for the Holidays

October 30th, 2020 by Sarah E Ashley

Phone with 'Online Shopping' on Screen and Shopping Cart in Surgical Mask Filled with Delivery Boxes

76% of All United States Adults Shop Online

This stat was taken from a 2019 survey. Imagine what that percentage will be in 2021. Shopping online safely is so important considering more and more people are turning away from brick-and-mortar shops to e-commerce. Approximately 42% of holiday shoppers will research and buy their gifts online.

While you might be tempted to throw caution to the wind and get those precious purchases out of the way, hold it right here.

Internet safety first.

We live in a digital age where everything is accessible to someone out there. No, we’re not talking about pumpkin spice here; we’re talking about personal information.

Do your part by following these must-know tips for safely shopping online during the holidays.

1. Look for HTTPS Encryption

Every secure & credible e-commerce website ever will have HTTPS encryption to make your online shopping experience a safe one. When you land on the homepage of a website, look in the top left-hand corner for a "lock" icon. It will be displayed to the left of the website's URL.

Depending on the browser you use, you might get notified that the website doesn’t have a secure connection. Other times the lock icon might yellow, red, or crossed out. If you’re unsure and don't see https before the URL, tap on the icon, and it will tell you if your connection is secure.

Secure Browser URL Screenshot

2. Know a Phish from a Turkey

Ok, this heading might be a bit misleading, but it’s still relevant (and entertaining). What we mean here is to be aware of phishing scams, fraudulent emails, and fake holiday ads. There are plenty of “catfish” out there waiting to snag up your online information from a carefully-crafted email or an almost-real- looking website.

Since this is holiday gift-buying season, don’t confuse a legitimate “package delivered” message for a fake one. We’ve seen people receive texts stating they had a package waiting, and a link was included in the text- scam. If it looks fishy, don’t even open it.

FedEx Text Scam Screenshot

3. Use Credit Cards

Another important way to shop online safely during the holidays is to only use credit cards. Making online purchases with a debit card is great and all, until you realize it isn’t. With debit cards, once funds leave your account, they are gone.

With credit cards, transactions are held for 2-3 days before processing. If you catch suspicious charges in time, they will not be allowed to process. Always shop online with a credit card, so if any fraudulent charges occur, you can back charge them quickly.

4. Public WiFi = No Purchasing

Public WiFi is tempting and readily available in most coffee shops, lounges, libraries, or places of gathering. However, never conduct any sensitive business over a public connection. Why? These public connections are not heavily protected, and dozens of people could be accessing the same data stream at once.

We won’t get too technical here, but let’s just say your system is vulnerable on public WiFi. Private WiFi, like your home WiFi, is where you should be making those online shopping decisions. With a private data stream, you know exactly who is on it and are less vulnerable to information loss.

Posted in: Protection, Tech Tips