Giving gifts at Christmas has been a long-standing tradition for many families all over the world. Even though my holidays are incredibly busy, taking time to find a thoughtful gift to show my friends and family they are loved is important to me.
Online shopping makes it easy to find a great selection of gifts and can be a big time-saver. Unfortunately, thieves are waiting to take advantage of you. Here are some tips to protect yourself while shopping online:
- Install the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus protection, and firewall security on your computer or phone.
- Use secure websites and logoff when finished. Look for an “s” in the website URLs. “https://” means the information is encrypted making it more difficult for identity theft to occur.
- Use one credit card for online purchases and track it often. Don’t wait for the statement to arrive, as it could have weeks of fraudulent activity on it. I suggest you use PayPal if it is an option since it protects you from entering your credit card number and personal information.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi because unsecured hotspots can allow hackers to access sensitive information.
- Beware of unsolicited (spam) e-mails. Don’t respond, and don’t click on any links, as scammers can use these to spread computer viruses, etc.
After you’ve made an online purchase, it is important to be smart when choosing your delivery option. Here are a few suggestions:
- Have your package delivered to a local store or the closest pick-up facility. If you can accept personal deliveries at work, consider using this benefit.
- Sign up for delivery alerts that notify you when the package arrives. Ask a trusted neighbor to take your package inside for you if you are not going to be home.
- Leave delivery instructions with the shipper such as “signature required” or “keep packages out of sight from the road.”
No matter what precautions you take, there is no foolproof plan to prevent loss from happening. However, the safeguards you implement offer you the best opportunity to avoid the scams and schemes that are used by “Grinches” this time of year. I recommend you talk with your independent insurance agent about personal insurance options designed to protect you from both property and identity theft.
Have a safe and happy holiday!