Shopping Safely Online

Some holiday shoppers start early checking purchased gifts off their lists. According to the National Retail Federation, some consumers start researching and planning their shopping in October or earlier.

An estimated $1,007 will be spent on average during the 2018 holiday season. When it comes to where people shop, more are planning to shop online--82 percent, while only 77 percent are planning to buy gifts in physical stores.

Although the bargains are hard to beat, the holiday shopping season is another opportunity for thieves to steal your information, turning the most wonderful time of the year into a nightmare. Before you log on and get your credit card out, safeguard your personal information from others who may want it.

Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.

To check for anti-virus software on your computer using Windows, go to the start menu. Click the control panel and select System and Security. It will tell you what securities you have installed.

If you need to purchase anti-virus software, you can go into a store or buy online. Go with a known product, like Symantec, McAfee, Kaspersky, etc., and keep it updated.

Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.

Use secure websites for purchases. To see if the website you are using is secure, look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address, instead of “http.” The ‘s’ means the site is secured.

Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Shop with companies you know and trust. Search the company’s name or the item you are purchasing on a search engine like Google. Checking their standing with the Better Business Bureau will also give you more information on the company. Typically, if the business is a scam, you will see bad reviews.

Don’t use public computers or public wireless for online shopping.