Many Americans choose online shopping during the Holiday Season for convenience and because many retailers offer special offers and greater discounts to online shoppers. However, shopping online comes with a risk of your identity being stolen. As we’ve heard, almost every year lately, major retails such as Target, Home Depot, etc., have had customer data breaches resulting in millions of customers having their credit information stolen. While, as a shopper, you cannot prevent such large data breaches, you can try protecting your credit information while shopping online by following few advises:
- Do not click on links included in emails you receive that look like they were sent by a retailer, bank or credit card company, and that are asking you to login to your account. Hackers send phishing emails that look like those from your bank or credit card company, or a retailer, in an attempt to make you click on links that will allow them to steal your identity. Instead, go directly to your bank, retailer, credit card company website and click on the links provided on their websites.
- However, if the email contains a special offer or a discount that seems harmless and doesn’t ask you to login to your account after opening it, remember that, if it is a phishing email, clicking on it may open a web page with malicious content that can infect your computer. Most of the time, retailers will post special offers directly on their websites for everyone to see, or, if you’re a member, you can find them in your online account.
- Before entering any login or credit card information on any website, make sure the website has a security certificate installed, i.e. the website address or the url in the browser address bar always starts with: https:// or there is a picture of a lock next to the website address, such as: or . Additionally, if you click on the lock picture, you can view the security certificate information for the website.
- Avoid, as much as possible, to enter your credit card information, if your computer or device is connected to a public network, i.e. airport networks, coffee shops, restaurants, etc…
- Additionally, if you’re in a public place while making an online purchase or payment, make sure there is no one behind you that can view and steal the data you enter on the computer screen or mobile device.