Online shopping – What’s not to love? Fill your cart, avoid the crowds, and no lines at checkout. Not to mention the excitement of coming home to a porch full of boxes!

As we approach the holiday shopping season and with the growth of Cyber Monday, it is important to note that although online shopping is easy and convenient, it’s not always safe. Below are some tips on how to protect yourself when placing orders online:

Who are you ordering from? It is important to evaluate the site you’re shopping on. Have you placed orders with this company before? Read reviews to see what type of experience other customers have had. Check the site’s security by looking for a web address with https://. This indicates the site is security enabled and helps protect your information.

How did you find the site/product? Links in emails, posts, and texts are common methods used by cybercriminals to try and steal your information or infect your devices. Don’t trust these links simply because they offer a great deal. Think about why you may have received this message. Did you sign up for alerts or subscribe to email promotions?

What information are they asking for? Be alert to the information being collected and make sure you think it is necessary for your transaction to be completed. Remember, you only need to fill out required fields at checkout.

How are you paying? Be sure to use a safe method of payment. Credit cards are generally the safest option because they allow you to receive a refund if the product wasn’t delivered or if you never placed an order.

There is so much more to do online in addition to shopping. Think about how much time you spend on the internet. Below are a few general tips for protecting yourself while surfing the web:

  • Keep a clean machine. Keep all web-connected devices (PC’s, smartphones, and tablets) free from malware and infections by running only the most current versions of software and apps.
  • Lock down your login. Strengthen the security of your online accounts by enabling things such as biometrics (Touch/Face ID), security keys, and one-time codes.
  • Make better passwords. Strengthen your passwords by using unique passphrases for every account. Be sure to include numbers and symbols.

Knowing about your device and it’s settings can also help you protect yourself from cybercriminals and hackers. Here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Be aware of your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings. Some stores look for devices with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth turned on to track your movements while you are within range. Disable these features on your device when you’re not using them.
  • Be cautious of public Wi-Fi connections. These connections are not secure, so limit the type of business you conduct while using them. Avoid logging into accounts such as email and online banking.

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