While it seems impossible to imagine, the holiday season is right around the corner. That means that it is time to start thinking about Christmas shopping! The internet has made it increasingly easy to get this done from the comfort of your couch, but that doesn’t mean that it makes it more secure. While you shop from your couch this holiday season, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind, and keep your information secure.
Stick to familiar websites
This is something that is advisable when doing anything online, regardless of the time of year. If you can’t find any contact information on the website (like a physical address, email address or a phone number), it may be best to try to find a more credible business or website to try to do your business with. If it is a credible small business, putting their address and phone number on the site makes customers, and potential customers, feel more comfortable. You can call, or visit, to ask questions. Scam sites may not have this information readily available since they generally don’t want to be reached, for obvious reasons.
Verify the security of the site
This is a big deal when you find something you want to purchase. When you are on the website, look in the url and see if there is a padlock in the line. Depending on the browser, the location of this will vary, but it should always be there. If it is there, that is the web browser’s way of indicating that it is safe for you to enter your personal information securely into the website. If you enter information into that site, it will be encrypted for your security. Nearly all major companies doing business online, including your bank, will have the padlock to verify the website is secure. If the logo doesn’t show up, or it does but with an ‘X’ over it, you may not want to proceed with the purchase. An example of a secure website is below. You will see a padlock near the right side of the image showing the website is secure and it is safe to proceed.
Even with the padlock, keep in mind that hackers have still found ways to breach the security of major stores in the past, like Target and Home Depot, so don’t think that the padlock icon means there is “absolutely” no chance that your information can be stolen. This icon indicates that this company has done what they can to make your online shopping experience secure.
Shop on your personal computer… at home
There are so many different ways that your information can be breached these days, it’s best to take every precaution possible to keep your information safe. That means that the safest place to shop is from your home computer. Because you are using your personal devices to shop and aren’t connected to a public server to surf the web, your risk is lower than on a public computer.
When you do your shopping this holiday season, make sure to use good judgement. If you ever question anything about a website, don’t proceed. In today’s society, there is no such thing as too safe!