4 Holiday Online Shopping Safety Tips

You better watch out… for online hackers! In the same way you keep your wallet secure while shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, it’s important to be cautious while online shopping. While eMarketer  forecasts that holiday retail sales will exceed $200 billion this year, one in four shoppers report they have fallen prey to identity theft or fraud.

Here are a few simple and effective ways to make sure your holiday online shopping is nothing short of a merry experience. 

Beware of alluring phishing scams 

Many of us have come across ads for products that seem like they’d make awesome gifts for our friends and loved ones – or even ourselves. However, if you ever receive a random email or text message from an unfamiliar brand, especially when you’ve never made a previous purchase with them, pause before responding or clicking links. It is likely a phishing scam, which compels people to provide personal information that is then stolen and manipulated by thieves. 
TIP: Stick to shopping on websites of brands you know and be cognizant of all digital communications. 

Use a private, secure Wi-Fi network while shopping 

A private Wi-Fi network connection that requires a password is ideal. Public Wi-Fi, which is offered in many coffee shops and other communal spaces, can be easily hacked, thereby potentially exposing your passwords, billing information and other personal data. 
TIP: When in doubt, do your online shopping at home while connected to your own secured network. 

Update your devices’ antivirus software 

Just as Santa Claus checks his naughty and nice lists twice a year, you should make sure that your digital devices’ software is up to date. Install the latest antivirus software to guard against cyber hackers who look for outdated, unsecured, vulnerable systems. 
TIP: If you don’t already have antivirus software on your computer, there are plenty of trusted options to choose from, including Norton, McAfee and Webroot. The small annual fee is well worth the added layer of data protection. 

Simplify your payment methods 

It’s highly recommended to use the same credit card and email account for all your holiday shopping. This will make your life much easier when it comes to keeping a close eye on how much you’re spending.
TIP: Many banks also provide the option to set up app, text and email notifications for transactions that exceed a certain dollar amount. This handy feature lets you know immediately if a criminal has gone on a shopping spree with your account. 

Happy holiday shopping! To learn more about how to stay safe online during the holidays, take Rural Mutual’s “Are You Smarter Than an Identity Thief?” quiz and learn more about how to protect yourself from cyber scams. 

Reach out to a Rural Mutual agent to learn more about our identity protection services 

The information provided in external website links is for general informational purposes only and does not form any recommendation or warranty by Rural Mutual Insurance Company or its affiliates.