Woman shopping on laptop

Shopping online is easier than making your way through the holiday shopping shuffle, but it can be a little risky if you're not careful. Here's a few hacks that you can use to keep your information secure while browsing the web for the perfect Christmas gifts.

1. Keep your passwords secure and don't make them too easy.

Of course we have to mention passwords first. It's the easiest way to access your accounts and if you're not careful it can be the simplest thing for information thieves to figure out. Make sure you're changing your passwords often and be sure to make them difficult to predict. Never use birthdays, nicknames or pets names and try to vary up between characters, numbers and symbols.

2. Security questions don't have to be the correct answers.

What... your mother's maiden name isn't DiCaprio? Identity thieves will be less likely to guess you answers if you fake them on your security questions and they're not really a test, so the answers don't have to correct. Using false answers means the information is only known to you... just be sure to write them down, so you don't forget. Was your first car the Batmobile? Sure, why not?

3. Click carefully.

The web is becoming trickier and trickier. Things such as Google Ads, pop up links and Social Media Ads can be misleading. While you think you're checking out that really cool jacket that shows up in your news feed every day and keeps calling your name, it could be a false link to a scammer's website. It's always best to look up or google the website you wish to shop from directly and pay close attention to the URL bar before you click. Be sure to scroll past all the Google Ads in your search that are usually at the top. They can sometimes be paid for by scammers too. 

4. Verify a site's authenticity before you buy.

If it's a little known start-up business, sometimes it can be difficult to know if a site is secure or not, but that doesn't always mean it's a bad site... just a small business. Be sure to do your research before making any purchases. A simple google search can sometimes weed out sites that are known to scam people. Just google the name of the online store you're shopping at with the word "reviews". Scroll past that store's pages and check out an online review site such as Yelp. People are quick to report if they experience problems with certain businesses and if there are a lot of review with similar issues, you may want to be wary of ordering from that site.

5. Don't tell them all your info.

An online store should never need your social security number or your birthday to do business. Sure some ask for you birthday to send you coupons, but it's usually optional. When you check out all they will need is your credit card info, your address to mail your stuff and your zip code. If they ask for much more than that, a red flag should go up and you should be wary of placing an order with that site. Even if the site doesn't intend anything malicious, if crooks steal your info and have your social along with credit card info, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.

There's just a few tips to get you through the holidays. If you're looking for some other ideas on keep your accounts safe, check out these links as well...

My Mother's Name is Cumberbatch (And other lies I tell for the sake of security) from Forbes

11 Tip for Online Shopping from PC Mag



Online Banking