Don't Let The Grinch Steal Your Christmas...Safely Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping!

Much holiday shopping these days is done online and there nothing worse than completing all of your shopping, giving the gifts and then waking up the day after Christmas to find your credit card has been compromised.  I should know because that very thing happened to me last year to the tune of about $2,000!  Don't worry, I was able to contact my credit card company and get all of it refunded but wow, what a hassle after all of the hectic holiday frenzy.  So, whenever I was asked to post some tips about safe holiday shopping this year I was instantly onboard!

                          Five Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping For Your Family in 2017

We all know how important it is to set good examples for our kids, especially when it comes to internet usage, online information, and shopping habits. This year alone, nearly 72% of holiday shoppers will be making online purchases. With a projected value of $106 billion, online hackers and other cybercriminals have been preparing all year to take advantage of vulnerable individuals and information.

Protecting your family from these unwanted holiday attacks requires a proactive approach. Savvy individuals willing to practice online safety and review their financial information for fraudulent or unauthorized activity are much more prepared to identify and address seasonal internet crime. From reading up on current scams, to actively monitoring internet and account activity, staying safe this season can be easy as long as you follow these helpful tips.

Tip 1:   Check the website's security
With the abundance of fake ecommerce websites, it’s essential to make sure both the product pages and checkout page are secure before authorizing the purchase. Scammers often attract individuals with unbelievable deals, rare merchandise, and other tantalizing offers, however, they’re less likely to have obtained the necessary certifications required to secure the site (but it is possible). Therefore, to be safe, consider checking the URL in question against Google's Transparency Report for the site’s safety rating.

Tip 2: Monitor your account(s) and sensitive information for changes
Individuals should frequently check all active online accounts and billing statements in order to identify and report unauthorized usage or charges as soon as possible. Fraudulent spending or access to sensitive information could seriously damage your current and future financial standing. Therefore, it’s essential to catch issues early and follow the necessary steps required to dispute fraudulent charges or identity theft attempts on your credit report.

Tip 3: Use strong and unique passwords for parental controls and shared accounts
We all know how important it is to keep an eye on the content our children view and the amount of they spend online. Parental controls make it easier to track, limit, or entirely prevent online activity while also filtering websites and protecting your stored information like credit card numbers or other passwords from unauthorized access. Ensuring you have an extremely strong and unique password when activating parental controls is the most effective way to guarantee your kids won’t crack it. Another quick tip is to create entirely new passwords for all new online accounts!

Tip 4: Update your computer’s security software

If you keep clicking “remind me tomorrow” on your computer's update notifications, today’s the day. Installing manufacturer recommended updates ensures that your sensitive information and software is protected against current threats. Although it seems simple, the 30 minutes spent updating could save you hours of headache. Hackers use malware and viruses to penetrate weak or unprotected WiFi networks, programs, or operating systems. To identify and address these vulnerabilities, manufacturers and development teams release and highly recommend installing the most recent security updates to ensure your computer is protected. 

Tip 5: Lead by example and limit online shopping
Although it’s not always possible, limiting your exchange of sensitive information using the internet is the most secure way to stay safe from cyber criminals. Consider leading by example this season in order to teach safe, responsible, and thoughtful purchasing. Instead of shopping online, have a discussion with your kids around the importance of supporting small businesses, security of cash, and value of keeping money in the local system. Try making a new tradition by logging out of the computer, collecting the kids, and exploring your community for unique things and hidden treasures that make the most thoughtful gifts!

 Don't let The Grinch steal your holiday joy by not practicing safe online holiday shopping! 

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