The holidays are fast approaching, which means most Americans are gearing up to do some online holiday shopping. According to CNBC, online holiday shopping grew by 32% from 2019 to 2020, with consumers spending $188.2 billion from the comfort of their homes. This comfort, plus the convenience of home delivery, means that 2021 will likely see similar or even greater numbers, with retailers planning on over $100 billion in ecommerce during the month of November alone.

With these increased holiday sales comes the increase of scams, phishing emails, and other cyber theft that can make your holidays less than bright. Since thieves don’t take a break during this season of goodwill, it’s important to keep your information safe using these five cybersecurity tips:

1. Keep an eye out.

Tis the season for scams! Whether it’s a fake charity, a fake tracking number or an email asking you to “confirm your purchase information”, scammers are getting better and better at tricking folks into giving out their personal and financial information.

Only shop on reliable websites and use trusted domain names rather than clicking on links. If you’re trying out a new website for the first time, read customer reviews and make sure the website has a phone number for customer support. Trust your gut: if you’re suspicious, give them a call and talk to a person or find a different website.

2. Watch your bank statements.

What does Santa do with his list? He checks it twice. When it comes to bank and credit card statements, you can never be too careful. Most banks offer text alerts, which you can set to let you know of any purchases made over a certain amount and to notify you of any unusual activity. Report any discrepancies to your bank immediately.

3. Protect your passwords.

Protect your passwords the way grandma protects that secret ingredient in her gravy recipe. Passwords should be long and unique to each account. When possible, use two factor authentication. Don’t share those passwords with anyone, and don’t use them to log into private accounts when on public wi-fi, hotspots, or computers.

4. Secure your home wifi.

Santa might use the chimney, but data thieves will often target poorly-protected home networks to get your personal information. Protect yours by enabling strong encryption on your home wireless network and making its passphrase a minimum of 12 characters. Give your network a name that isn’t obviously yours (ex: Cheryl Jones’s wifi), limit the number of people with administrative access, and make sure to install software updates.

5. Guard your privacy. 

When shopping online, take a minute to review each merchant’s privacy policies to find out what information they’re collecting about you. What will they do with it? Will they share it? How is it stored and for how long? Identity thieves often target retailers with large amounts of stored data for a bigger payoff, so it’s helpful to know who has stored your info. To further protect your funds, shop with a credit card instead of a debit card, as most credit card companies offer protections that reduce your liability should your card info be stolen.

No matter what you’re buying online this year, we hope these tips will help keep your holiday season merry and bright!

To find out more about protecting your online shopping information, contact TCecure today to see how we can meet all of your cybersecurity needs:

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