How do you like to do your holiday shopping? Do you prefer to take the day to hit The Mall at Whitney Field, or would you rather get your shopping done from the comfort of your home? More and more people are choosing to shop online, something that can fit more easily into today’s busy schedules.
While online shopping is convenient, there are more than a few unique risks consumers face as they make their purchases digitally. Consider this — in 2016 alone, there were 1,093 data breaches reported by US businesses and government agencies. In the last few years, we’ve seen large scall data breaches of companies ranging from Verizon to Whole Foods to Blue Cross Blue Shield. These breaches affected millions of individuals, putting their personal information at risk. In the wake of these massive cyber attacks, consumers should take care when entering personal information and making purchases online.
At Anderson, Bagley & Mayo Insurance, we think this is the perfect time to remind our customers, friends and business associates who live and work around Leominster, Westminster and Gardner to be caution this holiday season — and not just with trimming the tree and hanging the lights. There are more dangers to beware of that are not as obvious, which is why we took the time to pull together the following list of safe online shopping tips.
10 Tips To Help You Stay Safe While Doing You Online Holiday Shopping
- Make sure you use a secure website
How do you know if an online shopping website is secure? There are a few things you can check to protect yourself when using a website to make a purchase. The web address should begin with “https”, not just “http”. The ‘S’ stands for secure, and ensures that the website is using encryption to keep your personal information safe. You should also see a green padlock next to the web address, which denotes a secure website.
2. Only use secure payment methods
Using credit cards over debit cards allows you certain protections from your credit card company, like zero liability for all fraudulent transactions. You can also use secure payment methods like PayPal when purchasing items online.
3. Always create secure passwords
Secure passwords should use a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid easily guessed passwords, like your street address, anniversary or birthday and make sure to use different passwords for different websites. If you have trouble remembering all of your passwords, a password manager could help keep your information secure online.
4. Don’t store credit card information
This is another big one for anyone who frequently partakes in online shopping. While it can be tempting to save credit card information with websites you purchase from regularly, you should avoid this, especially as more and more businesses are experiencing cyber attacks.
5. Beware of suspicious ads and emails
Phishing scams, or attempts to obtain sensitive information by pretending to be a trustworthy entity, become more common and frequent during the busy holiday season. Be very wary of any pop up ads or emails with links offering major discounts or promotions. Clicking these links can invite hackers into your computer, giving them access to your personal information. If you see a deal that you are interested in, go to the website directly as opposed to clicking any links that are delivered to your inbox or that you see in your news feed.
6. Avoid using public or free Wi-Fi
As you do your online shopping, avoid the urge to do it on the go. Only use a secure, encrypted Wi-Fi network that you trust to avoid fake hotspots set up by hackers.
7. Routinely check your bank statements
You’re most likely making more purchases during the holiday season than you normally do, which is why it’s important to review your transaction history more frequently. If you are banking online, you may want to take this step daily. If you are still getting a monthly statement, set a reminder for January to review all transactions in greater detail. Be sure you take note of any suspicious or unfamiliar charges and follow up immediately with your bank if you believe these were made by someone other than yourself.
8. Be vigilant on mobile sites
Mobile shopping has become increasingly popular. In fact, it is expected that mobile visits to retailer websites will surpass desktop visits this holiday season, for the first time ever. There are unique risks when online shopping from your mobile devices, however. Counterfeit apps have become more common, so make sure to only download apps from official storefronts, like the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
9. Update your security software regularly
This is a tip you should follow all year round, not just during the holiday season. Install antivirus software on all of your devices, including your phone, laptop, computer, and tablet, and make sure to keep up with updates as these often contain patches that will help protect your computer from the latest viruses.
10. Do your research before you buy
Fake websites are a common problem, especially during the holiday season. Look up reviews of any website you’re not familiar with before making a purchase. Check for things like Google reviews and visit social media links to ensure that the website is legitimate. Hackers have also been known to create websites with spelling mistakes that mimic legitimate sites. It’s a good idea to verify that you are on the correct website before making any online purchases. And remember — if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
At ABM, it is our job to stay up to date on any risks that may bring harm to our clients, including threats to their online identity. If you are interested in an extra level of protection to safeguard your personal data, then call one of our insurance experts today to discuss adding identity theft coverage to your homeowners, condo or renters insurance policies. We have several partners who offer this endorsement, which will give you the peace of mind you desire during the holidays and throughout the year as your online shopping habits grow.
We hope these tips will help you have a stress-free holiday season! If you need advice or help with an insurance question, you can always reach out to a member of our ABM team or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for up-to-the minute tips to help you stay safe this holiday season. If you are ready to work with local agent who believes that personal service is a tradition, then give us a call at 978-534-2800 or visit our website to learn more: www.abminsurance.com