How to Protect Yourself When Shopping Online

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According to Numerator, a data and tech company serving the market research space, more than half of US consumers will shop online between Thanksgiving Thursday and Cyber Monday. As online shoppers look to scoop up deals, online hackers and scammers will be looking to take advantage of the shopping frenzy as well. Here are 7 ways to protect yourself:

1. Change your passwords. If you recycle passwords as many of us do (but shouldn’t), at a minimum change the password for every account that uses the same email address. Consider changing your passwords on a routine basis using a trigger that is easy to remember, such as daylight savings time.

2. Get a password manager. One of the problems with passwords is having to remember them. With a password manager, you create a single master password (we suggest using a pass phrase that is memorable, long, and includes a number and special character), and then file your other passwords into the encrypted password manager. You won’t have to remember any passwords but the one that gets you into your password manager. Easier and safer!

3. Beware of links and attachments. Be extremely cautious before opening a file or clicking a link in a suspicious email or text. Delete the message and access the website directly instead.
4. Beware of fake websites. If lured to a website offering a great deal, be sure to check the domain name, look for typos or errors, and do some research to verify that it is legitimate.

5. Avoid using free public WiFi. Disconnect from free WiFi networks and use your cellular provider’s secured network instead. Use your phone’s personal hotspot if you’re using a laptop to shop.

6. Download the App for your credit cards and banks. These apps often allow you to turn on messaging that will alert you of transactions. If you suddenly get a text that “you” just bought something, you can react immediately. Many also offer two-factor authentication, sending you a special code via text after logging in and adding an extra layer of security.

7. Sign up for credit monitoring. Credit monitoring is increasingly cheap and in some cases free. Why not have it in place so that if a new account is opened, a new credit check hits or the like, you get an instant message or email when it happens so you can react?!

Hackers are smart. Try to be smarter—with extra thought and security, you can stay safe while shopping online during the holidays and beyond…

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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