Tips for safe and secure online shopping this season

11:13 AM, Dec 10, 2019
An image of a payment screen on a mobile smartphone being held by a customer holding a Value Bank debit card in their other hand.

‘Tis the season for spending billions of dollars on holiday purchases. And most of those transactions will take place online, what with the lure of bargains, selection, fast shipping and easy returns.

About 73 percent of consumers plan to use their smartphones and tablets to research or make purchases this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.
The average American consumer intends to spend $1,047.83 on holiday shopping this year; with more than half of that being done online. Holiday online shopping is up 18 percent this year, according to LifeLock.com

Unfortunately, the increase in e-commerce can open the door to online purchase scams that can expose your identity and attack your wallet. An Experian survey found that 43% of identity theft victims in 2018 said the incidents occurred while holiday shopping online.

You want to avoid the stress that comes along with identity theft or financial fraud.

Here are some tips to boost cybersecurity while shopping online:

Research any new site you use before making a purchase from it. Check out the reviews. Make sure the site is security enabled. A small lock icon in the corner of your URL bar lets you know the page has privacy protection installed. Also, the web address should start with “https” for extra measures to help secure your information.

Be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete transactions. Does the vendor need the information being requested? No online shopping site needs your Social Security number or your birthday to do business.

Review website policies to know what to expect if the purchase fails to go as planned.

Keep a clean machine. Make sure your software on all internet-connected devices, including PCs, smartphones and tablets, is up to date to reduce risks of infection from malware.

Use a secure Wi-Fi. Don’t make purchases via public Wi-Fi, over which someone can intercept data you send or receive. Use a virtual private network (VPN) or your phone as a hotspot instead.

Keep your logins tight. Use the strongest authentication tools available, including biometrics, security keys, and unique one-time codes through apps on your mobile device. Go beyond usernames and passphrases to protect email, banking, social media and other key accounts. Make your passphrase a sentence, at least 10 characters long.

Have separate passphrases for every account. A data breach at one company could give criminals access to your other, shared-password accounts. Consider using a password manager to generate and safely store strong password/phrases.

Buy with credit cards. They usually provide the best liability protection — online and offline. If someone racks up unauthorized charges on your credit card, you won’t have to pay while the card company investigates. Most major credit cards offer $0 liability for fraudulent purchases, and the cardholder’s liability on a debit card is capped at $50 if reported within two business days.

Try a virtual credit card or a prepaid debit card to remove risks with online shopping. A virtual credit card is one for which the issuer randomly generates a number that’s linked to your account, and allows you to use it anywhere online and choose when the number expires. A prepaid debit card differs from debit and credit cards in that the money isn’t connected to your credit history or to a bank account. Load money onto the prepaid debit card, use that balance for purchases and reload when needed.

Don’t save your credit card information on your accounts. Some retail websites may not be able to secure your info, leaving your personal details and payment card data vulnerable to thieves or data breaches. Skip the autofill option or try using a password manager, for an extra layer of protection to your account info.

After purchases, check all your accounts and bank statements. Look for fraudulent charges at least once a week or set up account alerts.

ValueBank Texas provides many personal and commercial loan products and credit cards to suit to your individual needs. For more information, visit any branch location, visit their website, or call (361) 888-4451 today.

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