Staying Safe While Online Shopping
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Before you head off to a nearby coffee shop to relax and do some online shopping for the holidays, take some time to familiarize yourself with some of the risks. Don’t worry, you can still browse your favorite sites and order the perfect gifts for your friends and family members. Online shopping is convenient – and fun. Just remember, knowledge is power. Your knowledge of online security practices can help protect your assets from scam artists and rogues.
Tips for protecting your identity and assets while online shopping for the holidays:
Avoid public WiFi
If you do like to sit in a café and browse the web, avoid using public WiFi for sites requiring sensitive information. It may be perfectly harmless to check Instagram, play Wordle, or even look at gift ideas, but you shouldn’t take the chance of actually making purchases on an unsecured network. It’s too easy for cybercriminals to capture your financial data.
Don’t shop with your debit card
Credit cards have protections that debit cards, which are linked directly to your credit union account, do not. Most credit cards have zero-fraud liability. This means that if someone makes fraudulent charges on your card, you won’t be responsible for paying as long as you report the problem in a timely manner. There may be an investigation, but you won’t need to pay while it happens. If you are the victim of a scam or if someone is able to use your debit card online, you will have to wait until the matter is investigated before you are reimbursed. That’s in a best-case scenario. In a worst-case scenario, you could have your accounts drained before you realize what has happened.
Avoid risky clicks
We’ve all been there – the urge to click on the link in an email from your favorite store announcing that you have won a product is strong indeed. Avoid the siren call of the “too good to be true” offers and prizes that flood your inbox. There is a good chance that they are imposters specializing in this form of cybercrime sending emails designed to look as if they come from stores that you know and like, or they are scammers hoping that you will click on a link that could ultimately infect your computer with malware.
Update your software
This applies to your phone updates, as well as your computer updates. The reason for this is that with each operating system update comes increased security. The updates are to patch any vulnerabilities. It is in your best interest to have all the protection available.
Look for secure sites
Don’t do business online with any company whose website isn’t secure. How can you tell? Look for https:// at the beginning of the company’s URL (web address). This collection of letters is something most people don’t even think twice about, but https stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure – and that S at the end is crucial. It means that you have a secure connection with the e-commerce company’s website and that your information is encrypted. Never type in your information on a website with a URL that is missing the s to avoid being the victim of a data breach. Signet’s online website is secure; no other site can assume its identity. Verisign has issued the Signet website a digital certificate guaranteeing its security. As well as the automatic digital certificate, we also have automatic sign-off, superior encryption technology, firewalls, and access code lockout after 6 attempts. We truly do value your security and privacy.
Vary your passwords
Make sure that your passwords are strong. Yes, it’s annoying to have to compose mammoth passwords for each site with extra characters, upper and lowercase letters, and numbers – not to mention those special characters! But simple passwords are easy for hackers to crack. The holidays may be coming up, but there is no reason to give your information to an online thief as a gift!
You should also use different passwords for different sites. It is impossible to remember dozens of strong passwords (OK, it’s difficult to remember even one or two strong passwords), but password managers can help with that. They encrypt all of your passwords for you so that you only have one master password to remember.
Always log out
It’s important to remember to log out of any financial sites that you visit, especially if you use a shared computer. At Signet FCU, we know that sometimes (despite your best intentions), things happen, and our clients may forget. For this reason, Signet Online will always sign you out after a predetermined amount of time so that no one else can access your information or account.
Check your statements
Make it a habit to check your credit card and credit union statements frequently. If there are any questionable charges, you will be able to follow up on them right away. It’s common to forget that impulse buy you made in the middle of the night, but you may also discover an actual fraudulent charge in time to cancel or freeze your credit card and avoid additional problems. One advantage to the Signet FCU app is the fact that you can easily set up alerts. These will let you know when transactions go through on your account so you can immediately know if anything suspicious occurs. As a Signet customer, you can even direct message us through the app to ask questions or turn off your debit card. Sign up for online banking and the mobile app here.
Shopping online doesn’t have to be a stressful experience that drains your holiday spirit. Follow online shopping tips from the Signet FCU blog, follow your common sense, and observe the same sense of caution you would if you were shopping in person and you should have a safe and relaxing experience.