With the holiday shopping season upon us, now is the time to stress the importance of keeping your credit card safe. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), 46.1 percent of all holiday shopping will be done online this year, which rose from 44.4 percent last year and is the highest record since the NRF began polling in 2006.
These numbers have increased with the help of online deals, especially those on “Cyber Monday,” the web’s answer to Black Friday. Because nearly half of all holiday shoppers will be making purchases online, and so many sites will be taking advantage of this, this time of year creates the most vulnerabilities to identity theft. Here are some ways you can ensure that your credit card information will be a little safer this season:
- Make sure you’re only shopping on encrypted websites. Everyone’s holiday shopping priorities are different. Some are hunting for deals. Others are looking for something sentimental. Regardless of what your shopping needs are, your top priority should be trusting the websites you’re using. Yes, the Internet does provide a lot of options to find the perfect gift or the best deal, but you should never use a site that isn’t encrypted. That’s an easy way to compromise your personal details and potentially become a victim of ID theft . To make sure you’re using a secure website, look for the “https” prefix in the URL. Make sure that little “s” is there because it lets you know that data going through the site is encrypted and will be virtually impossible for hackers to access.
- Don’t use public wi-fi. You might not think about it, but using public wi-fi increases your vulnerability to identity theft. For your online holiday shopping, you should use your own secure wi-fi network to better protect your identity. That’s the best part about online shopping, anyway: you can do it from the comfort of your own home and don’t have to deal with the chaos in public places.
- Don’t use “auto-save.” You may be tempted to auto-save your login and payment method information so you don’t have to keep typing it over and over again, but this will make you more susceptible to theft. For even more protection when making accounts with stores online, create passwords that are long and difficult to guess by using symbols and numbers.
- Don’t overestimate your EMV chip card. The EMV chip isn’t a new invention, but it’s taking the U.S. by storm with its promises to reduce the risk of identity fraud. However, you shouldn’t overestimate its protection, especially if you’re using your new EMV chip card for online shopping. While the EMV chip produces a unique code each time it’s scanned for in-store purchases, that technology hasn’t reached online shopping yet. These cards require the same information as magnetic strip cards when used on the Internet. So, if you think you’re exempt from taking a lot of these online shopping precautions because you have an EMV chip card, you’re mistaken. You should be sure to follow them just the same.
For additional protection this holiday season, you can invest in a credit monitoring service to look for certain activity that may indicate fraud. This way, your holidays can be a little happier and much less stressful with the knowledge that you’re acting tp protect your identity.