These days, you have to keep track of more than just your wallet during the holidays. According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of gift-givers will shop online.
The Kansas Credit Union Association offers these seven tips for online holiday shopping.
Use strong passwords. The most common passwords are password, abc123 and 123456. If you are using any of these passwords, change them. Use letters, numbers and symbols and more than six characters. The time it takes for a hacker’s computer to randomly guess a six-letter password using lowercase letters only is 10 minutes. An eight-digit password with upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers would take a hacker 463 years to crack. The more letters, numbers and symbols used in a password, the stronger it is…and the better protected you are.
Shop on trusted networks. It’s probably not safe to make an online purchase on a free, public wi-fi network. Shop using your own wireless network.
Make sure your security software is up to date. We all have security software installed on your computers. Check your anti-virus software, anti-spyware software and firewalls to make sure you are using the latest version…on all your desktops and laptops. Secure your browser.
Before entering personal information, ensure your browser is locked. The URL should start with "https.” The "s” means it’s secure. In addition, look for the lock icon located in the window of the browser and not on the page itself. If you are using Internet Explorer the lock icon will appear at the top of your browser bar, and on Firefox, it appears at the bottom of the browser.
Avoid pop-up screens during online shopping. Hackers and identity thieves can develop pop up screens to steal your information. Legitimate shopping sites will never ask you to enter personal or financial information on a pop up screen.
Use credit cards, not debit cards. If a hacker or phisher obtains your debit card number, they may gain access to your checking and savings accounts. A debit card does not offer the same protection as a credit card.
Be wary of scams. Phishing scams (using text messages or email) are on the rise. Never respond to an email or text message that seems fishy. Be a cautious buyer. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. And while a legitimate business will need credit card information to complete your purchase, a business should never ask for your social security number or driver’s license number.