This holiday season practice safe Christmas shopping if you shop online. Deloitte estimates that over one trillion dollars will be spent by Americans in just online shopping this year. And, Nasdaq stated that fraud rates go up more than 200 percent during the Christmas shopping season. Protect yourself by knowing how to spot fraudulent sites among other actions this year.
Look for Secure Websites
Secure websites have a padlock or start their web address with “https.” In some cases, the website itself may not be secure, but it will forward you to a secure payment page or site. Always make sure any page you enter information is secure. Only store credit card information on trusted sites, and if you do store it, be sure the password for that site is strong and is different than any other password you use.
Additionally, every website you shop on should have readily accessible contact information including a phone number and physical address. The site should also have very clear terms and conditions and have its return policy posted.
Credit and Debit Cards
Whether online or at a brick-and-mortar store, you should always use a credit card instead of a debit card. With a debit card, thieves could empty your bank account before you know it. While you will probably get your money back if the bank is FDIC insured, it is a major hassle and will most likely cause bounced check fees. With a credit card, a thief is still able to access your money, but won't be able to drain your bank account.
Save and Compare Receipts
Save your receipts. Once your credit card statement comes, compare the receipts with the credit card statement to ensure everything matches. Question any transaction that you don't have a receipt for unless you know for sure that you are the person who created that transaction.
Use a site that encrypts your passwords. LastPass and Dashlane will encrypt your passwords, as will Blur. Blur also masks your email address and your phone number, which keeps your information out of the hands of hackers who might steal your information from online stores and other sites.
Virtual Credit Cards
A virtual credit card is a unique credit card number that you may use when you shop online. It changes for each purchase. Once the transaction has been completed, the number is either locked or goes inactive. Sign up for virtual credit cards at sites such as Privacy.com. Before you do sign up if you don't use Privacy.com, check the fine print – there may be charges. Some sites are free. Merchants won't be able to get your card info, and neither will the hackers that hack into stores' systems.
A virtual private network service (VPN service) creates an encrypted connection to the internet. If a WiFi connection gets hacked, that means anything you do on the internet, including entering your payment information on a shopping site, is free game to hackers and identity thieves. Virtual private network services like those offered at LiquidVPN keep your information secure.
Convert your dollars to a digital currency such as Bitcoin. Then, spend the Bitcoin currency on sites for your online shopping. Many businesses accept Bitcoin, including 75,000 store that are Shopify powered. To convert your dollars to Bitcoin, use a conversion site such as Coinbase.
Safe Christmas Shopping
By using well-known websites and checking for security on those websites, and by using a credit card masker or using any of the services above, your Christmas shopping will be much safer. There is still no guarantee that you won't be hacked, but it is less likely to happen.