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Security Center

Safe Holiday Shopping

The 2020 pandemic conditions have led to the reduction of shopping at brick-and-mortar shops and as such more merchants are setting themselves up online for the first time. All of this, the pandemic, move to online commerce set-ups and the usual inevitability of holiday fraud, sets the scene for a season that promises to be more challenging as the fraudsters try to take advantage of what they may consider a silver platter.

This year the holiday season can make for a stressful time of the year, especially if you are shopping in a new or unfamiliar way. You won’t want to add to your list having to sort out the mess fraudulent activity presents.

Paying attention to the online environment can make your holiday shopping experience a much more secure, and happy holiday season, and using the below Safe Shopping guidelines can assist you with that.

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Shopping Tips

Practicing safe shopping is no different from other healthy habits, you need to understand what to do and make it a routine. Some habits to adopt include:

• Use Familiar Websites – start your browsing at a trusted site. Major retailers all have a robust online presence. Be watchful for misspellings or an unexpected domain for the site (e.g. .com, etc.)

• Look for the Lock – when using your credit card online, only use sites with SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption. You can tell if a site is using SSL if the URL starts with HTTPS and a locked padlock icon appears to the left of the URL.

• Not Oversharing – avoid sharing your social security number or birthdate – they should never be required to shop online.

• Create Strong Passwords – when shopping or banking online, create strong passwords (many sites will rate a password when you create it) or use a password manager that creates unique strong passwords for each site and manages them for you.

• Check Your Statement Regularly – check your online account statements regularly for fraudulent transactions or those you don’t recognize; if you spot one contact your card issuer. When shopping online it is best not to use a debit card. In the event of a compromise, your related bank account could be accessed.

• Inoculate Your Computer – be sure your anti-malware and anti-virus software is up-to-date and turned on, and pay attention to any installation prompts – if the information doesn’t seem familiar, do your homework before hitting the install button.

• Privatize Your Wi-Fi – if you are shopping over public Wi-Fi use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect the data transmitted during your shopping transaction.

• Avoid Shopping Online In Public – credit card information entered in a café can be hijacked by someone watching from the next table.

• Think Mobile – using apps from major retailers avoids using websites or browsers.

• Check-out the Seller – if you are buying from an unknown seller, do your homework; check the Better Business Bureau and online reviews. But be careful, reviews can be misleading.

• Complain Loudly – if something bad happens, contact the seller and complain; call your credit card issuer and complain; report the incident to the FTC, the FBI, or your state’s consumer protection agency.

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