Shop Securely This Holiday Season

It’s that time again and it’s never a bad thing to remind everyone about good security practices for keeping your money and identity safe during Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday shopping. Cyberthieves are just as excited about this time of year as everyone else. That’s because they can make off with a good profit from everyone else’s holiday cheer. Keep these tips in mind when shopping in the brick and mortar or cyber locations for your favorite retailers.

Use Payment Cards As Credit

When swiping your payment cards, choose to use them as credit. You do have protections when using them as debit, but the possibility of your card being re-created and used at an ATM to deplete your cash increases when the thieves also have your PIN.

Use Chip Enabled Cards

Not all financial institutions have issued the chip cards yet. However, if you do have one with a chip, use that over the one that only has the magnetic strip. It’s a little tougher to duplicate them and for malware to get to the information off of them.

Business Of All Sizes Present Risk

Cybercriminals don’t discriminate. Small businesses are being targeted more and more these days for many reasons. One is that they just don’t have the resources larger ones do to implement cybersecurity measures. Definitely support your local small retailers, but use the same safety practices you would for any retail purchase.

Closely Monitor Statements And Accounts

Do frequent reviews of all accounts and statements over the holiday season. Don’t wait for the statements to be issued if at all possible. Go to your accounts online and review every few days for potential fraud. It may be that you use your payment cards and accounts a lot more frequently this time of year. The more you swipe or insert cards, the higher the risk of the information from them being stolen and used for fraud. If you notice anything suspicious on your accounts, report them to your financial organization immediately.

Online Shopping Has Its Own Rules

By all means, avoid the crowds and do your shopping online. But there are different considerations when doing so.

Make sure all your accounts have different passwords. Yes, cyberthieves do reuse passwords they steal or buy. Make sure they are all unique and have a combination of upper and lower case letters, use numbers and special characters, and are not easily guessed or discovered some other way.

When putting in payment card numbers, make sure the sites you are using are secure. Look for the little lock icon in the browser and that there is an “https://” preceding the web address. Sometimes there are other browser indicators, such as a color change of the address. If an unsafe site warning pops up, take it seriously and don’t continue shopping at that site.

Beware of malicious advertising. Instead of clicking advertisements, go directly to the website being advertised rather than clicking an ad.

Always be sure to have anti-virus and anti-malware software installed and kept updated on every device when online shopping.

As always, use caution whenever using payment cards in any environment, physical or otherwise. For ultimate security, remember that brick and mortar stores will gladly accept your cash as payment for any products. Many online retailers are now accepting other payment types besides payment cards these days. Consider those as well.

So, go ahead. Shop till you drop and enjoy your holiday shopping. Just do it securely.

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