With the Christmas season about to go into overdrive, we'd like to help keep you safe by providing a few simple tips to increase your security and ensure you have a safe online shopping holiday season.
Stick with trusted brands that have a strong reputation
Generally, brands like Amazon and Costco have very robust security and online payment solutions implemented. When possible, use brands that have a strong reputation.
Use credit cards and secure payment services instead of debit cards
As a general rule, credit cards vs. debit cards offer consumers additional protection when shopping online. The main advantage of the credit card is the account is not linked to whatever funds you have in your accounts here at the credit union. Credit cards also have limits on the amount of money that can be used. Likewise, using secure online payment services like PayPal is advisable. The advantage with these providers is that they act as an intermediary; e.g., you deliver payment to PayPal and PayPal then passes it onto the retailer. Your credit union account information is kept disconnected.
Look for 'https' in the web address and the padlock symbol
"https" is an online security protocol that encrypts information so that data can be kept private and protected between you and the website you are interacting with. In most cases, the text in the URL is also preceded by a padlock symbol (if this is missing, the website should be treated with caution).
Be suspicious of offers that are too good to be true
We have all come across a legitimately unbelievable offer and jumped on it. However, online that is rare. The old adage of "if it's too good to be true, then it probably is" should inform how you shop online - many scams look to hook you in with tempting offers. It is advisable to be extra cautious and vigilant during holiday seasons, like Black Friday and Christmas, where there tends to be many REAL amazing offers. Avoid clicking any advertising links in email. Instead, browse to the site directly to check legitimacy.
Use your phone's cell network rather than public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is something we now expect. From shopping to Starbucks to restaurants, being able to access the Internet with little or no cost is part of our way of living. However, when it comes to buying online, all the convenience that comes with public Wi-Fi can be quickly undone by a fraudster sitting on the network waiting for an unsuspecting victim. There are many ways to secure a public Wi-Fi connection but in general, when out and about this holiday season doing your shopping, opt to use data provided by your network provider when you go online to do any kind of financial transactions.
Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!
Aaron Robel , VP of Information Security