Seven Online Safety Shopping Tips For Holidays And Year-Round

Sitting in traffic, wading through crowds, and choosing the perfect gift from the selections in the local shopping mall, lead many holiday shoppers to turn to the Internet for holiday and gift shopping. Many e-retailers offer free shipping, discounts, and loyalty reward pricing to lure shoppers to the sites.

Online shopping can save time and perhaps money, but caution must be taken to keep credit card numbers and other private information secure. Using common sense and shopping from retailers with whom you’re acquainted allows individuals and business owners to shop online with confidence.

Here are seven tips to stay safe online and begin checking off items from holiday shopping lists for friends, family and colleagues:

  1. Shop at sites that you are acquainted with rather than shopping through a site uncovered during search engine research. A search result can lead to a site that is not secure. A site such as is one with which individuals are familiar and one that takes shoppers’ privacy seriously.
  2. Look for sites that start with HTTPS:// or that has a lock in the browser bar. This means that the site is encrypted and that your information has a higher chance of being protected.
  3. Make certain virus software is up to date and active. Hackers may not wait for online shoppers to log into a suspicious site if the virus software on your computer isn’t active a hacker can easily infiltrate your computer and access your private information.
  4. Beware of the information you share. When shopping online there is no reason for a site to request, or require, your social security number or birth date in order for you to complete a transaction. Sites that ask for this information are suspect and providing this information could lead to identity theft.
  5. Consider using a pre-paid debit card for online purchases. If this is not an option, check your bank and credit card statements following the purchase and check throughout the month. Don’t wait for the statements to arrive in the mail. Uncovering fraudulent charges as quickly as possible will lead to its quick resolution.
  6. Use strong passwords. When shopping online and signing up at various sites, use a strong password. A password that is not easy to hack is one that is comprised of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t store your passwords online or on your computer.
  7. Use secure Internet connections. Whether you shop at home or in a public space, make certain you are not sending personal, financial information across an unsecure connection. Using a public computer or public WiFi could lead to identity or credit card theft. Remember, though, if you shop online from your home or your office, you need to have your WiFi connection password protected to prevent individuals from hacking into your system. Locations such as Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, McDonald’s, libraries, and other locations provide secure WiFi connections, but it is still the best idea to shop online only from locations with which you are familiar.

Online shopping allows the busy entrepreneur to complete his or her shopping while freeing time to spend with friends and family as the busy holiday season gets into full swing. Business owners should track receipts and purchases made to colleagues as the purchases may be tax deductible – ask your accountant if you’re unclear as to what is a legal business expense.

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