Protect Yourself Online this Holiday Shopping Season

Photo businessman working with generic design notebook. Online payments, banking

The holidays are approaching quickly, which means many shoppers will be descending on malls, ready to take advantage of the incredible deals.  But if you (like me) are one of the 76% of Canadians who shop online, protecting your private information should be top of mind as identity thieves prowl the internet in search of vulnerable shoppers during this busy time.

Follow these simple tips to protect yourself while shopping online this holiday season and all year round.

  1. Before you start your online shopping, install software programs to protect your computer and make sure they’re kept up-to-date. You should have an anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam programs, and a firewall installed.
  2. Do your holiday shopping on sites you know are reputable and secure.
  3. Always check the URL of the website. Fraudsters sometimes change a letter or use domain names that end in .net or .org, which are rarely used by online retailers.  Another important signal that indicates a website is secure is the letter s in https://.
  4. Pay using your credit card or PayPal. Credit cards and PayPal offer consumers certain protection if things go wrong with a purchase.  Be suspicious if a website asks for a bank transfer because those are unlikely to be refunded in the event that the transaction is fraudulent.
  5. Avoid clicking on questionable links in emails. Phishing emails are often disguised as legitimate requests from trusted companies and banks.  If you receive an email you’re unsure about, reach out to the company to see if they sent it to you.
  6. Avoid shopping on public wi-fi. While it may be convenient, these hotspots are very easy to attack.
  7. Consider purchasing identity theft insurance to protect yourself in case of an incident.

Whether you’re shopping at the mall or online, remember to stay alert and protect your information.

Do you have any additional tips to add to the list?