How is it December already?! Chances are you have some holiday shopping to do (or start), and if you’re like me you’ll turn to online shops.  It’s fast, easy, convenient, and, in some cases, I can have my purchases wrapped and shipped directly to my loved ones.

But before you open that browser, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Thing #1: Criminals are trying to steal our information: protect your credit card

  • Use a credit card rather than your debit card, if possible. You may even want to consider using a separate ‘online shopping’ credit card with a lower limit.
  • Avoid saving your credit card number on websites.
  • When making purchases online, check that there is a green bar in the URL along with a certificate that verifies that they are a trusted site. look for the https, not http.

Thing #2: Public networks are not safe: connect with caution

  • Avoid shopping on public wifi or sharing any person information. Anyone can gain access to a public network and monitor your activity or steal your personal information.
  • If public wifi must be used to conduct transactions, use a VPN service to help ensure a secure connection.

Thing #3: Phoney sites are out there: think before you click 

  • Be wary of phoney shipping status emails. You are likely expecting more package deliveries this time of year and cybercriminals seek to exploit this by sending fake shipment and delivery notification emails and text messages. If you’re not sure if an email is legit, go directly to the tracking website. Don’t click on the links in the email.
  • Know how to spot a fake pop-up ad. If an ad for an amazing deal pops up while you’re browsing, go with your gut. If it seems too good to be true it probably is. Don’t click on it. Just hit the “x” and continue to sites you know are legitimate.
  • Beware of texts that promise big discounts on high-quality brands, often written in urgent language, poor grammar, and with an abundance of emojis and punctuation.

Check out our IT security tips page for more ways to stay safe online.