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Don't let scammers and hackers ruin your holidays. Here are a few tips to keep your personal and financial information safe while shopping for Christmas.
The holiday shopping season is here, which means so are the scammers and hackers.
Most Americans will purchase at least one gift from an online retailer. While sites like Amazon and Walmart do a great job of keeping your financial information safe, Etsy shops, individuals, and off-brand sites don’t.
So, before you click “buy” on that must-have-gift for your friend or family member, make sure and read up on how to keep yourself safe this holiday season.
Make Sure Your Anti-Virus Software is Activated
Before you start shopping, double-check that your computer’s anti-virus software is running in the background. Most software includes anti-phishing and firewall protection which will minimize the risk of hackers stealing your data.
If you don’t have an anti-virus software installed, there are several good ones available for free, including Avast, AVG, and Kaspersky.
Don’t Use Free Public Wi-Fi Hotspots to Shop
If you’re online shopping while you’re out and about, don’t use a public Wi-Fi hotspot. The likelihood of a cybercrook snatching your data increases when you’re on public Wi-Fi.
These public wireless networks are often unsecured and prime targets for hackers. Instead, wait until you get home or in an area with a secure internet connection.
Use Strong Passwords
Most sites nowadays want you to sign-up before you purchase. That’s fine, and can often get you discounts, but make sure the password you use is a strong one. This is your financial information you’re using.
Passwords with 12 to 40 characters that include a mix of letters, numbers, and characters will be hard to crack. If you have multiple passwords you use, look into downloading a password manager.
Also, if it’s been a while since you’ve updated your passwords, now is probably a good time to do so.
Be Careful What You Click
Don’t recognize the email address? Are they offering you a deal you didn’t sign up for? Did you get an attachment that looks unusual?
Before clicking on a link or downloading any attachment sent in an email, make sure you are absolutely sure you trust the sender. Even the most vigilant anti-virus software won’t stand a chance against some of the malicious bugs that are often attached to these kinds of emails.
Cover Your Card
It may sound silly but be aware of what’s going on around you before you punch in your credit card number or four-digit debit card code. It’s not that hard for someone to snap a picture while you’re not paying attention and attain your private information.
Be Sure Your Web Browser has a Padlock
Look up at the top of your web browser in the address bar. Notice a padlock symbol? That’s a good thing! It means the connection between your browser and the website is encrypted and safe from prying eyes.
If there isn’t a padlock, then check that the website address bar begins with “https” and not “http.” Https connections are encrypted and safe. If you shop at an unsecured website, your private data may soon be at the hands of a cyber Grinch.
Stick to One Card
Security theft happens. One way to reduce the severity if it happens to you is to only use one credit or debit card for online purchases. You can even use a prepaid card.
Know your card security features
Banks and credit card companies have implemented some great security features, such as being able to set limits on the number of times the card can be used within an hour or on the amount that can be spent on one purchase. However, if you’re unaware of these limits for your personal accounts, or your phone number is not up to date in your bank profile, you may end up with a declined card.
For more tips and advice on keeping your private information safe, visit our Security Center. (https://riverwindbank.com/Personal/Security-Center)
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