Most people are finding it more enjoyable, less stressful, and just flat out easier to do their  Holiday shopping online. Why wouldn’t we? It’s so much easier to look up anything you are searching for on Amazon or any other online retailer, and with one click you’ve secured the best price available and will have your gift within a few days. That beats scouring the store for the item you are looking to purchase, lines to check out in the stores, and the worst – mall parking lots.

With the simplicity and ease of online shopping there is, of course, a downside…the risk of online scams and hackers looking to ruin your holiday season. There are many ways to proactively protect yourself, your money, and most of all your identity!

While shopping, keep these important tips in mind:

  • If you’re shopping at an online retailer, be sure that there is an “s” behind the “https”. This can help ensure that the site you’re on is secure, but does not always mean the retailer is legitimate. Stick to online retailers that you’re familiar with and trust.
  • When making transactional purchases in public places make sure your Wi-Fi connection is secure. If you are connected to an unsecure public network, you are giving potential hackers a way to view your online activity and any transactions you’ve made.
  • Be wary of emails and advertisements that could be phishing attempts. An email that asks for your personal information, username or password information, should throw up a red flag.
  • Lastly, make sure your computer is armed with security software (i.e. Norton Antivirus, Kaspersky, McAfee) and your firewall is active.

After the holiday season is over, it’s still important to stay on top of your personal cybersecurity. Below are our recommendations to keep in mind all year long:

  • You’ve heard this one over and over, create “strong” passwords! The more complex (upper & lowercase letters, numbers, characters) and long, the better. This is vital in protecting your accounts from potential hackers gaining your login credentials, but even more important is having different passwords for your various online accounts. Unfortunately, if your information is compromised and your login credentials are the same across the board, your hacker has just hit the jackpot!
  • Never send any secure information (Tax return, Social Security numbers, bank account information) via email that is not protected. If you are sending attachments via email with secure information always be sure the document is password protected or encrypted.
  • For credit cards and online banking, set up email alerts to make you aware of transactions taking place in your accounts. There are different features with various credit cards such as email alerts for transactions made when your card is not present. This is a good way to monitor any charges made to your credit cards online.

When in doubt, always air on the side of precaution with your online activity! Don’t open items you don’t trust, and keep your personal information secure.