Tips to Protect Yourself Online While Holiday Shopping

Thanksgiving is one of the most popular holidays. As well as fantastic food and family togetherness, the occasion is also a popular time for shoppers to scout out bargains on major brand names.

The Monday following the Thanksgiving weekend has widely become known as Cyber Monday, where consumers take to the internet in droves to unearth cheap deals on their favorite products.

But! With the vast amounts of money that are changing hands on Cyber Monday, consumers need to be especially vigilant of protecting themselves from credit card fraud and other online crimes. There are a great number of precautions you can take, to make sure you’re not the next victim of online criminals.

Make Sure the Website Is Secure

I know, I know. This is probably pretty common sense, but the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse suggests that you only purchase items online from reputable retailers that offer security with their transactions. These include major online stores such as Amazon or, while other organizations such as the Better Business Bureau provide lists of certain retailers they deem safe to use. But just how can you tell whether an additional online store is secure?

A good sign that a site is secure is that it will transport you to a dedicated location where you can enter card details. This is often shown with a small padlock icon at the top of your screen, meaning that you are protected from online attacks. The URL of the website should also change to https://, rather than the standard http:// (the extra “s” stands for “secure”). Occasionally a key symbol will also be used to show that any data you are entering on the site is encrypted and safe from external viewers.

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Use a Third Party

Rather than simply relying on the vendor’s encryption technology to keep your details safe, you should also use an external financial organization to handle your purchases for you. Reputable firms in this field will provide additional safety locks that hackers and criminals will not be able to break. For example, when shopping online with VISA an additional “Verified by VISA” code is used. This is a password that is preselected by you and certain characters from it must be entered with every purchase online.

PayPal is also another great online resource to use for digital payments. You can apply for a refund directly from PayPal up to 30 days after any purchase for goods that you are not satisfied with. This refund comes directly from PayPal, meaning you are not reliant on the retailer giving your money back.

Protect Yourself

There are also certain tactics you can use yourself to keep safe online. For example, it is a good idea to only use one dedicated credit card for online purchases in order to keep the rest of your details secure. You should also be careful about clicking through to unsolicited links that pop up on your screen and opening emails that contain deals of “special offers” from unknown vendors.

Although shopping online is quick and easy, it can also occasionally be dangerous and leave your identity unprotected. I know you’re dying to go buck wild on Cyber Monday and spend spend spend, but I think you should take into considerations the above tips so that you actually come out of the holidays alive.