Thinking about shopping online this holiday season?

With the holiday season upon us, an alarming number of consumers will shop online. It is during this time hackers will be vehemently waiting to steal your information. Protecting your personal information is crucial any time of the year, but the holiday season brings about a lot more fraudulent activity. Here are four ways to stay diligent to protect yourself.

Credit, debit, and prepaid: Using your debit card online can open you up to hackers. There are fraud protection services you can purchase to help alleviate any losses but be prepared it may take some time in getting your account credited. However, using credit cards not only have fraud protection that guarantees you are not liable for fraudulent transactions, but the inconveniences are much lower. For example, if a hacker gains access to your credit card information, they have access to what makes up your credit limit, leaving your checking and/or savings accounts untouched. Pre-paid debit cards are a great alternative if you do not have a credit card. If hackers get the pre-paid debit card information, they only have access to the funds on the card. Eliminating the worry about hackers gaining access to your personal information.

Secured websites: Observe the URL on the web browser, ensuring the “S” is present, such as “HTTPS://”. The ‘S’ stands for secure. This shows that you are on a secured website. Also, review the URL for any typos. Typos or misspelled words are a sign of a fake website just looking to steal your payment information. Choose to shop when you are on a private network, such as when you are at home or on family/friends secured networks. Avoid entering your payment information while on a public Wi-Fi browser.

Familiar websites: When shopping online, choose websites that are familiar to you. When you shop from trusted websites, bookmark them to ensure you do not mistype the web address. A simple typo can send you to a fake website posing as your favorite retailer. Another helpful tip is when you visit a site to make a purchase that you are unsure of, try using Google to research the company online to see if it’s legitimate. You will also be able to read any written reviews which many times will alert fellow consumers when there’s a scam. Additionally, you can also pay with PayPal, a payment source designed to protect you and your personal accounts.

Strong passwords: When ordering online, create an account to access your order history. Ensure that the passwords you use are strong. Use upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using personal information, such as names of your kids, animals, birthdates, or anniversaries. This will make it much harder for a hacker to figure out your password of choice. Also, do not use the same password for multiple accounts, if a hacker figures out one, the hacker will get to all of the accounts assigned with that password.

If you need help ensuring that your personal information is secure and stays that way, let us help. Together we can look at examples of secure websites, strong passwords, and the alternatives to shopping online. Email me at or call me at (207) 660-6267 to set an appointment.