5 Tips for Safer Holiday Cyber Shopping

Year after year, holiday shoppers continue to prefer purchasing online instead of going to brick-and-mortar stores. Who wouldn’t rather shop in the comfort of their home instead of waiting in lines and packed parking lots? Add on free and fast shipping, one-click buying, and low prices, and staying home to buy gifts is a no-brainer. Just as shopping downtown or at the mall has drawbacks, making purchases online has its own risks too.

Here are five tips to make online shopping more secure:

Tip 1: As convenient as public Wi-Fi is, resist the temptation to buy online in a public space unless using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or secured Wi-Fi. A VPN usually requires a subscription and password, but worth the price tag if sharing personal information or making purchases over public Wi-Fi. While connected via a VPN, online transactions are shielded from view by hackers on the Wi-Fi network. For more information, check out our blog on how to be safer when using public wi-fi.

Tip 2: Don’t buy unless the website is secure. When making an online purchase, take a look at the website address in the browser. It should begin with https:// and there should be a padlock icon to the right or left of the address.

Tip 3: Use a credit card to make the purchase rather than using a debit card or an online check. In the event that the website is fraudulent or the item isn’t received, the credit card company will conduct an investigation and may cancel the charge or limit the cardholder’s liability for it.

Tip 4: If using a website account, don’t use the same password used on other sites, banking, or email. In the event of a cybersecurity incident, if the same password is used on multiple sites, personal information becomes more vulnerable to identity theft. Either check out as a guest on the site or use a password manager. While not the best method, even writing passwords down in a notebook and keeping it somewhere safe is more secure than using the same password on multiple sites. The best option would be to use a secure password manager tool.

Tip 5: After the shopping is over, make sure to check credit card and banking statements. Confirm the purchases and look for unexpected charges. If there is a fraudulent purchase, report it to the credit card company. They will investigate the incident and may issue a new card depending on the severity of the threat.

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© 2018 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This article is intended for information purposes only. All recommendations are general guidelines and are not intended to be exhaustive or complete, nor are they designed to replace information or instructions from the manufacturer of your equipment. Contact your equipment service representative or manufacturer with specific questions.

Monique Ferraro

Monique is counsel in Munich Re’s US Cyber Practice at HSB. Previously, she was principal at a digital forensics, e-discovery and information security consulting firm and owner of a law firm. Ms. Ferraro is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

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