Staying Safe This Holiday Shopping Season

It’s that time of year again.  Whenever you walk into a big box store you hear that music playing, people are ringing bells outside, and you’re looking for gifts online.  Now, more than ever one must be careful when making purchases.  However, you can thwart these thieves and scam artists hoping to cash in on your holiday cheer by following a few simple rules.

1. When Purchasing always look for the SSL

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer.  It’s security method that restricts other computers from accessing information during a transfer.  You can see if SSL is enabled by looking for a padlock symbol or by checking if the URL (address bar) is preceded by HTTPS:// which indicates a secure portal.  This isn’t a sure fire way, but it’s a start.

2. Never give out your credit or debit card numbers over e-mail

No reputable retailer asks for credit card information via e-mail.  If they’re worth their two cents then they’ll set-up a secure portal like the one mentioned above.  Honest retailers will also never ask for your social security number.  The more information someone is asking for, the more likely they are phisher, an online data miner looking to steal and sell personal information.

3. Above all else: Use common sense

The greatest defense against an online thief is common sense.  With the number of online retailers there are out there, the moment you sense something fishy just move on.  Look online for reviews of companies to make sure they are on the level.  The Better Business Bureau is an excellent resource.  If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Happy Holidays.